“The Promise of Peace”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Mighty God of majesty and rest, we come to You today, gathered as Your people, because we remember the Sabbath and we hope to make it holy. Give us what we need to find our rest in You, through Jesus our Savior, Amen.
So, most of you know I just came back from 2-½ weeks in Alaska with Brianna. This year Jennifer was able to also go up. Our vacation schedules weren’t exactly the same, so we each got to spend a week with her alone, and we also got to spend a week with her together.
Shishmaref, AK, is a small island where, it seems, everyone is literally related to everyone! One morning I was having breakfast with Clifford Weyiouanna, one of the island elders, along with his friend Florence Olanna. Flo was telling me about all the children and grandchildren that are currently in her house (I’m guessing it’s about 12, in an 800 square foot house); and so I asked her how she is able to be responsible for that many people. Flo told me that long ago she made a deal with God. I asked what she meant and she said, “I said to God, ‘Lord, I will help raise whatever children you bring me to help raise if You will do all the worrying.’ And that’s what we do.”
As a father of three and a pastor of 7 dozen, I have tried to make that same deal with God. Is it possible to be free from anxiety? Do you need help, like I do, in learning to deal with worry?
Because there’s a Seahawks game happening right now that I know some of you really want to see the last half of, I’m gonna give you the one-sentence version of this sermon right now (although if this game is anything like last week’s game, the Seahawks won’t score until the 4th quarter anyway). Are you ready? Because of God’s promise to provide, believers never need to be overcome by worry! That’s it! Do you trust Him for that?
Today we read from the largest single body of Jesus’ teachings; we know of it as “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7). What Matthew tells us is that Jesus gave us these words while speaking from a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Listen to this short section, from 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 than food, and the body more 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 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers 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—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….’
What’s the first word in this passage? “Therefore”. What is the “therefore” there for? They’re there for the answer to the paragraph immediately preceding. In that paragraph Jesus talks about how money and stuff and even others cannot be our main priority (Commandment #1: “You shall have no other gods before me!”). So, our bank account is not to be our main priority. “Therefore, I tell you, don’t worry about your stuff!”
Real quickly, name three reasons Jesus says we shouldn’t worry:
- Worry is UNPRODUCTIVE.
Jesus had just warned His followers about the tyranny that comes from giving highest value to our material possessions. He alerted them to be devoted to God rather than to money.
The “therefore” means that deliverance from worry comes as the direct result of giving first place in our lives to God!
He says that when we worry we don’t add a single thing of value to our well-being. All worrying does is bring us down. It is a completely unproductive means of making anything good happen. Psychologists tell us that 95% of what we worry about never happens, so why did we worry? And the other 5% wasn’t stopped by our worrying … so why did we worry? The best that worry might bring about is an ulcer, or hypertension, or insomnia. Worry is unproductive.
- Worry is UNBELIEF.
In verse 30 Jesus calls us worriers, “you of little faith”. Remember, Jesus was speaking to His followers. He was talking to people just like you and me. They got up that morning, they went to the outdoor sanctuary, sat on the damp grass, surrounded by flowers and birds and the beauty of the lake and nature. And they’re there to listen to Jesus. And Jesus says, “O you of little faith!”
They had what some would call a “saving faith” – the faith to trust Jesus for salvation; but they lacked the faith to allow them to trust Him or all of life’s needs.
Most of us here in this room have that “saving faith” – but are you one who needs to take that next step of faith and trust God for our daily needs? That’s a question we probably need to ask ourselves every day. Today, do I trust You, God, in every circumstance?
Jesus reminds us here that our heavenly Father already knows what we need. Do we believe that? How do we pray when we wonder why He hasn’t given us what we think we need? Paul sums this belief up in Philippians 4:19, “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!” A growing faith is one that believes this kind of promise, even when we can’t see the source of the answers to our prayers.
We worry when we don’t believe this is true. Worry is, by definition, unbelief!
- Worry is UNNECESSARY.
Look at the underlined verse in your Sermon Notes Page. In contrast to people who do not claim to follow Jesus, we who do make that claim are to give ourselves to the diligent pursuit of God – to know Him and become more like Him – to “seek first the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of God”. When we do, Jesus makes a promise: “all these things will be given to you as well”.
This section commenced with a “therefore”, and now it concludes with a “therefore”. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow….” Since it is an act of unbelief, and since it is totally unproductive, worry is utterly unnecessary!
All of this is true because the peace which passes understanding, the peace which alludes us when we worry, that perfect PEACE is available with Jesus. If your life feels like it lacks peace, maybe we just need to invest some time and trust with our true Lord and Savior.
That is His invitation to us. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus bids us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Florence Olanna showed me how to partner with God – how to give Him the heavy side of the yoke, how to trust Him with my day-to-day worries. As we move in to our time of prayer this morning, I invite you to concentrate on the areas of our lives where we need to find rest for our worried souls, all who are tired and overly burdened, let’s come to Jesus. And claim His Promise of Peace. Amen.
Advanced Bible Study Commentary; Winter 2002-03; LifeWay pub; Pp. 50-56.