July 14, 2019
Sermon on the Mount-Matt 6:25-34
What is it you worry about? That’s the topic we’re going to be talking about today. I looked up the things people worry about the most and I’m sure you can guess what the top 3 are-money, work and health. We worry about not having enough money now to pay our bills, not having enough money for the future to retire, or that we didn’t have enough money in the past and now we’re buried under too much debt. We worry about our jobs-are we doing well at work, is my boss happy with me, will I get fired, is my job secure, do I even like my job, what if this isn’t the right job for me, will I ever get a job? We worry about our health-and that’s especially bad in our day when we can get online and check out WebMD or other medical websites to diagnose ourselves and fear the worst. Have you ever done that? They list all the symptoms of some illness-and you think -Yes, I have all those things-that’s it, I’m a goner! But we worry about our appearance, we worry about our diet, we worry about not getting enough exercise, we worry about relationships and family situations. We worry about our kids and our pets. We worry about trying something new or going somewhere new. We worry about schoolwork and exams. Who didn’t have anxiety during finals week? We worry about missing our flight or not being somewhere on time. Although in my opinion I worry more about arriving too early for something than being late-because then there’s the worry of those awkward conversations with the other people who showed up early-Hey, guess we didn’t time that right. Or it’s the worry of standing around really bored for a long time. But what is it you worry about most? Let’s be honest, there is no shortage of things to worry about!
And if you’re like me it’s very easy to justify our worrying in the present. For example, I can remember being in college worried about how hard my studies were-as I mentioned all the exams and finals that stress us out, the papers to write and projects to complete-and I remember thinking that once I finished college how easy and carefree life would be. That in the real world people aren’t taking exams and writing papers, they’re just going to work. And instead of paying to work-like we pay for college-I’m paying tuition to do all this schoolwork! You actually get paid for you work! So I thought adulthood and the real world was the most carefree, worry-free place ever! And of course I was right-there’s no worries in real life is there? Everything’s easy, isn’t it? Hardly! But that’s what we do. We tend to think that the next stage in life-whatever it may be-once I get settled into my new job, once the kids get a bit older, once I get that promotion and the budget isn’t so tight, once I retire and have more time-then everything is easy and carefree. But right now it’s a no-brainer that I’m all stressed out and worried. Who wouldn’t in my shoes. Just get me through this season and then I can stop worrying and be on cruise control. Have you found yourself doing? Experiencing and accepting anxiety and worry in the present because you’re assuming that the future will be carefree and easy? But our passage this morning isn’t just addressing the future-it’s about the present, the here and now. What Jesus has to say in the Sermon on the Mount directly applies to what you’re going through this moment.
So turn to Matthew 6 in your Bibles. Now if you remember from last week we looked at the broad and narrow roads from chapter 7-and that fit well with communion-but this week I want us to take some time to look at the last part of chapter 6 because it’s so relevant and challenging for us. As I said, there’s never a shortage of things to worry about-and that’s what this passage addresses. Look at v. 25a. And right away we have to ask what the therefore is there for. And we examined that a few weeks ago-v. 19-21, 24. And that’s telling us to let God be our master, that we should be serving Him, that He should become the treasure of our heart. And when you do that-v. 25. And that’s such a powerful question to ask. How would you answer it? I’m sure we’d all quickly say-yes, of course life is more important than those things. Clothes are clothes, food is food. But how much of our time and energy-and anxiety-is spent on those things? Now when Jesus speaks about food-thankfully many of us aren’t too worried about when we’re getting our next meal. That certainly hasn’t been the case, however, for most of world history-particularly when Jesus is speaking these words. Tomorrow’s meal or even tonight’s dinner could be in question. But whether it’s food or just the necessities and wants of life-the question is whether we’re trying to stockpile those things and feel secure because of what we’ve gathered, instead of trusting in God who promises to provide. Listen to the analogy Jesus uses-v. 26. Again, another obvious question. The Lord says we are far more valuable than birds. Now that doesn’t mean He hates birds, the Lord’s not against birds-but there’s tons of birds out there flying around-and Jesus wanted his audience right there on the mountainside to look up and see them. To observe the birds pecking at seeds on the ground or perched up in a tree-and ask the question-where do they get their food? Because Jesus is saying birds don’t have a big barn or grocery store they go to. I love this picture from the Jesus Storybook Bible-pic 1. Birds aren’t pushing shopping carts or carrying bags of groceries. There’s not some chain store or online food company that birds are ordering from. Instead what happens-your heavenly Father feeds them. God provides for the birds and-they’re not stressed or worrying about it. And so what is Jesus’ point-Are you not of more value than they? It’s the argument from lesser to greater. If God promises to provide for the birds, He’ll definitely promise to provide for you. And yet isn’t that what we struggle to accept? So Pt1:Lies we often believe: God’s holding back. He won’t provide. He wants me poor and miserable. He won’t come through for me.
Have you found yourself thinking those things and believing some of the those lies? We referenced Adam and Eve last week, but once again-that was the lie the devil got them to believe. God’s holding back on you, He’s keeping the good fruit, the good stuff, from you. He’s out to spoil your fun and make life miserable. I wouldn’t trust Him if I was you. And so Adam and Eve went and got for themselves what they wanted-meaning the fruit-and didn’t trust God and all the fruit from the million others trees He’s already provided. Or what happened with the Israelites in the wilderness-Ex 15:27. Talk about great provision, an oasis in the desert! But no sooner did they leave Elim when their tune changed-Ex 16:2-3. It’s that same refrain-God won’t provide, He’s set on making life miserable. He’s brought us out here just to abandon us. And then God did provide. He provided daily food from heaven-the manna that faithfully came every single morning to feed His people. We’re talking the ground covered in bagels or pancakes-and how did they respond-Num 11:5-6. Once again, that same set of lies. If only we had never followed God out of Egypt, if only we had stayed there. Talk about a buffet in Egypt-where God’s taken us is miserable! Back to Pt1. And maybe you feel that way too. It may not be food-you may not be too worried about cucumbers and garlic-but what about the stuff you want in life? Are you worried that God’s not going to come through for you? That there’s not going to be enough in the future. That He’s brought you this far in life only to drop you and abandon you? That God’s provided so faithfully in the past-but now He’s saying-Sorry, the well’s dried up, there’s nothing more coming your way, fend for yourself, I’m out of here. So often that’s our default way of thinking. We instantly fall for these lies and think God isn’t going to provide, the future’s bleak, we’re done for. And that when the worrying, the grumbling, the complaining, the need to stockpile, fend for ourselves, take matters into our own hands because God isn’t going to provide.
Keep your finger in Matt 6-but flip ahead to Matt 14-because whether it’s Adam and Eve in the garden, the Israelites in the wilderness, or the disciples with Jesus-not trusting the Lord to provide is human default way of thinking. Look at Matt 14:19-21. Talk about miraculous, amazing, abundant provision. No one went hungry, everyone was fully satisfied and stuffed, there were more leftovers than what they started with! That’s a remarkable fact. Jesus provides for the crowd when there was no possible human way. The takeaway isn’t for everyone to plan ahead, stockpile a bunch of food and provisions, every man, woman and child for themselves. The takeaway is to trust the Lord who always gives us exactly what we need when we need it-and does it in an incredible way. So look at the next chapter-Matt 15:33-34. Did you see the disciples strong trust in Jesus? No-because there wasn’t any! One chapter later-how quickly they forgot and returned back to believing these lies. How soon they turned to anxiety and worry! How in the world are we going to feed so many people? We don’t have anything to work with! We’re out here in the middle of nowhere. This is terrible-we’re doomed! But of course, Jesus once again comes through and provides. No amount of worrying did them any good. Anxiety wasn’t the answer. Have you been here in life? Maybe you’re here right now, looking back thinking yes, God took care of you and provided abundantly in the past-but now you’re facing another crossroads, another challenging spot in life where your resources are minimal. You’re staring at 7 loaves and a few fish wondering how you’re going to make it, thinking this time you’re doomed for failure. Flip back to chapter 6 because this is the very situation that Jesus is earnestly trying to teach you-v. 26b-27. I find that statement rather humorous. Like somebody who worked really hard at worrying his whole life-professional stresser-comes down to the end of it-ready to die-and God says-Listen, I was going to have your life end at 2pm-but I tell you what, you really worried well-so I’ll give you until 3/3:30pm-you earned it! It doesn’t work that way! Anxiety accomplishes nothing!
Look at Jesus’ next example-v. 28-and once again He wants the crowd on the mountainside to look around at all the wildflowers-to see them spread across the fields in bloom-and think how beautiful they look-without any toiling or spinning, meaning they don’t sew any clothes or knit a sweater or go to the tailor-and yet they’re stunning! I like this other picture from the Jesus Storybook Bible-pic 2. That’s the analogy-flowers aren’t worried about getting all dressed up-v. 29-30. It’s the same argument as before. Certainly God cares for the birds, certainly He cares for the flowers-but as His children He cares for you and me so much more! Yes, you might worry about how you look or what you’re wearing. Isn’t that really the first moment of worry everyday? You look in the mirror and see yourself and think-I have to get this face ready, not a lot of hope here! And then you look in your closest and realize your clothes are all terrible and you have nothing good to wear. Who hasn’t longed for a better wardrobe or wish they could buy the coolest brands? Back when I was in high school it was either Z Cavaricci jeans or Guess jeans. We’re talking stonewashed, pleated, baggy jeans, and if it had the Guess triangle on the back pocket-you were in! But now those things are long gone and vintage. It was funny to see that the common google search was if Guess is still in style, are Guess stores closing? Fashion styles come and go so quickly-just like the grass and the flowers-one day they’re in bloom, next day they get mowed down and replanted with something else. Back to v. 30. And that doesn’t mean that God is going to give you some incredible wardrobe or the newest and most stylish cloths-but it does mean He’ll provide. It means He will clothe you with what you truly need-and that’s being clothed in Christ and His righteousness. Look at Isa 61:10. There’s nothing more beautiful than that! Clothed in salvation never goes out of style. God wants you adorned with the grace and peace of Christ. He wants your life clothed with with hope of eternal life, that you would be the aroma of Christ, a picture of Him to the world around you. That’s how He wants you dressed. Does that verse describe your life? Are those the clothes you’re wearing?
Here’s the question -if you can trust the Lord to save you and clothe you with eternal life to come, why can’t you trust Him to provide all that you need in this life now. Why are we so willing to say-I know you’ve got great things planned in eternity, Lord. You’ve prepared a place for me, heaven will be great, you’ve got it all covered and under control-but here in this life for the next 70 odd years I’m not sure you’ll come through for me, Lord. I’m not sure it will all work out. What were the disciples with the few loaves of bread-but men of little faith-that there wouldn’t be enough for the whole crowd. What were the Israelites in the wilderness but a complaining people of little faith-only thinking about the past and ignoring God’s provision in the present. So Jesus is challenging us to not be a people of little faith-but to fully trust Him with all things-v. 31-32. God fully knows and understands what you need-so there’s every reason to have full faith in the Lord. And yet maybe a phrase like little faith describes you. You’re full of nervousness and worry, full of anxiety and stress, needing to see that it will all work out before you take any kind of step of faith. But listen to how Jesus concludes this-v. 33. That’s His call for your life. Being someone of faith, displaying faith, walking in faith, seeking first His kingdom.
So Pt2:Truths we must believe: God hasn’t brought you this far just to drop you now. He will always provide all you need. Do you believe that? Do you believe that God will always provide all that you need from now to eternity? That’s what this is saying. Seek first God’s kingdom-which is eternal and neverending-and all the other things you’ll ever need along the way He’ll provide. Or do you think that God’s brought you this far, but but won’t take you the rest of the way? That at some point His provision runs out, that God comes up short, His storehouse runs dry and He says sorry you’re on your own now? Or maybe you don’t doubt God’s provision-He created the whole universe, obviously He can provide anything He wants-but you worry that He won’t provide for you. That He’ll take care of everybody else-but forget about you. Or that you’ll do something to make Him mad so that God walks away and abandons you. It’s easy to have those fears-but that’s not the truth we’re called to believe in. Go back to what Jesus said-v. 32-33. Do you believe that? I can still remember a friend of ours in TX when I was finishing up seminary, and Monica and I were getting ready to move to London to start my first job as a pastor-and I was nervous about everything. Nervous about the finances, nervous about living overseas, nervous about all the paperwork and visas and health insurance, nervous that we’d get to London and fail. The only thing I wasn’t nervous about were the fish and chips! But this friend said to me-Jim, God hasn’t brought you this far-opened the doors for you to go, provided housing and a church, all the stuff He knows you need. God hasn’t brought you this far just to drop you now. And that was exactly what I needed to hear-and exactly what I needed to believe.
What about you? Are you under the illusion or filled with worry that God’s going to abandon you somewhere along the way? That just when you need Him most He’ll be off doing other things, and ignore your problems; that He’ll just let you sink in the mud and hang you out to dry? I like what Paul says in-Phil 4:19 NIV. This was a reality Paul experienced in his own life-so now he’s confidently passing that through on to the Philippians. And did you notice the most important word in that verse-all! Not some of your needs, not a few of your needs, not a limited amount of your needs because a lot of people have needs and God has to ration it out. No-He will meet all of your needs-and what’s it based on? The most unshakeable, unending, all-powerful resource in the universe-His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. That’s not going anywhere. Even the richest or most famous person on the planet could lose it all in a day-but the glorious riches of Christ Jesus are bottomless and inexhaustible! What would happen if the next time you’re filled with anxiety and worry, the next time you’re stressed out and fearful that the ground will give way beneath your feet and you’ll fall into ruin-that you believed this truth and prayed according to this verse. Because that’s a prayer request God answers every time. He might not answer how you thought, He might answer it or provide in a way you never imagined. I don’t think multiplying 7 loaves and a few fish were what the disciples imagined! But the Lord will undoubtedly answer your prayers and faithfully meet all your needs. He says so back in our text-v. 33. The Lord is saying-I won’t leave anything out that you need. But here’s the key truth. He doesn’t do it all at once. He doesn’t unload a year’s worth of strength on you or unfold the future all at once so you see everything and know exactly what’s up ahead. Instead, He gives you everything you need one day at a time, He provides exactly what’s necessary in the moment.
Look at how Jesus finishes this part of the sermon-v. 34. One of the biggest sources of anxiety we face is tomorrow, it’s the future, the great unknown and what lies ahead. And that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be praying about the future-of course we should. But Jesus is saying don’t be anxious about the future, don’t stress and worry about tomorrow-because I’ve given you everything you need for today. What a promise! So add this to Pt2: Pt2:Truths we must believe: God hasn’t brought you this far just to drop you now. He will always provide all you need. He supplies all your strength for today. And that’s the part I often forget. I’m so worried about tomorrow or next week or next month and what’s coming on the horizon that I forget about today-and that the Lord has given me exactly what I need to face the challenges that are right in front of me. I get all antsy and want to know that everything I’m going to face is easy and smooth-sailing, but the Lord doesn’t want me resting in the security of a carefree future, He wants me resting in the security of Him-my all-caring, all-loving Savior. It’s a huge difference. Just ask yourself-where’s your source of confidence? Is it the circumstances or the Savior? Just ask yourself-how different would your day be if you woke up and immediately reminded yourself-the Lord has provided everything I need to face the stuff of today. What if you entered the challenges and concerns of the day with that promise at the forefront of your mind-instead of starting off the day swamped by worry and consumed by anxiety-Ohh-I have no idea how I’m going to make it through! It would be a world of difference. But that’s what we’re called to remember. I like what Tim Keller said about this-Psalms, 159. That truth, that reality is what dispels our anxiety and stress. We have everything we could ever need or want in Christ!
I’m reminded of a scuba diver. Anybody ever gone scuba diving? I haven’t-but I know there’s a lot of gear that goes into it. Here’s a pic-and so if you get all this stuff on-the wetsuit, the oxygen tank, the mask, the flippers-you’re good to go scuba diving. So would it make any sense for a trained scuba diver to put all this on, to be clothed in top of the line scuba gear-but then say-No, no-I’m not ready for the water. Too nervous, too stressed out-not getting in. What if I can’t breathe down there or swim down there? You’d respond by saying-You’ve got all the gear, you’ve got an oxygen tank, you’ve got flippers-of course you can breathe and swim. You’ve got everything you need to go into the water-what are you worried about? What more could you want? And it’s not any different with us. In Christ we have all we could ever need or want in order to dive into whatever challenges we face. We’ve been clothed with Christ, filled with Christ. In fact, we don’t just have top of the line scuba gear-but back to Phil 4:19 NIV. We have the bottomless, inexhaustible glorious riches of Jesus strengthening us, providing for us the perseverance, the patience, the endurance, the grace to face what worries might lie before us. There’s nothing that you need that He won’t provide just when you need it, in the moment.
So as we conclude this morning-there’s two Questions to Ponder: (1)What do you worry about most? Think about that. What would put at the top of your list? What’s the first thing that comes to mind? I’m sure it’s not hard to answer that. Usually our worries take up the majority of our thinking. But identify what it is you worry about most so you can take that to the Lord and hand it over to Him. And often I think the stuff we worry about most tends to be the small stuff-which maybe we need to let go. Jesus is saying here in Matt 6 to let God handle the small stuff-just like the birds and the flowers do. But I also think we tend to worry about things that are outside our control anyway. I’ve said it a few times this morning-but there is no shortage of things to worry about in life. Who knows what could happen? And yet let me end by saying that there is no shortage of things to worship the Lord for either. Therefore, the other Question to Ponder: (2) Are you a worrier or a worshipper? What’s the opposite of worry? It’s worship! Worry is about being all stressed out by stuff. Worship is being fully satisfied by the Savior. Worry says-Oh no-this isn’t going to be good. And worship says-It’s all good because I have a good God in heaven who’s completely in control!
Look-none of us knows what the future holds, none of us can see what lies up ahead. There’s very little we can do in and of ourselves to impact the future or change what may or may not happen. But we do know the One who holds the future. We know the One who is the Author of our story, the One who is weaving the threads of our lives-and the lives of all His children-together into a beautiful tapestry that glorifies Him. And we are promised that no matter what the immediate future may or may not hold-the final outcome, the end, our eternal destiny is amazing. That if we know Jesus and have trusted in Him to save us then we are forever united with Him, filled with Him and given the hope of eternal life. We have so much to worship Him for. So many reasons to praise God, so much to thank Him for. Let us not be a people of anxiety and worry, let us be a people of adoration and worship!