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Promises of Grace: “Peace, Rest, Satisfaction”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Lord Jesus, we come to You today hungering for Your Holy Spirit to fill us with Your power and love, with Your grace and mercy, with Your truth and wisdom. Fill that need today, we pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This past week I read about a newspaper article that told the story of a widow who had raised six children of her own, and another 12 whom she had adopted. The journalist asked her, “How have you been able to raise all these children, and do it so well?” Her answer? “It’s really very simple. I’m in a partnership. Many years ago I said to the Lord, ‘Dear Lord, I will do the work of rearing these children if You will do the worrying.’ Ever since we formed that partnership I have left all the worrying to Him.”
Listen with me to these words from Jesus during His Sermon on the Mount. For many years this passage contained my personal faith-verse. See if you can guess which verse that was – and how it challenges you to live into its call. Hear the Word of God: Matthew 6:25-34 ….—-
25 “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? 26 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? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble….”
Is it really possible to be free of all worries and every anxiety? [I remember my Mom, whom we all thought of as a pretty big worry-wart, telling us that she wasn’t worried, just concerned. I don’t know if I believe her, but I have learned that there is a real difference! When Jennifer is an hour later than I expected her to be, I try not to worry, but my weak-faith and dim-mind goes to that dark place of wondering if the roads are so icy she’s off in a ditch…. It doesn’t usually last, but it certainly happens!]
Is it really possible to be worry/anxiety free?
Name the last time you “worried” about something: What was it? [Health issues is a regular source of worry – Finances can cause us to worry (jobs, employment, bills, cost-of-living, Social Security income, taxes) – Finances and health issues combined (do we pay for prescriptions or for Avista?) – Weather, flooding, driving, power bills, roof safety, trees falling, etc. – Family feuds, sibling rivalry, intergenerational differences, etc – these can all get under our skin and cause us to worry and be afraid of the future.
That list was all under my personal umbrella of anxieties. What are yours?]
Your Sermon Notes page asks about the last time you were worried. The next question asks, Did that thing happen? Did our worry change its occurrence? [That is really just a rhetorical question. It’s meant to help make us aware of the fact that that’s not how it works. Worry does not fix our problems. Worry does not solve our concerns. Worry about my Diabetes does not lower my A1c. Worry about my income does not pay my WiFi bill. Worry does not keep my roof from caving in under the weight of too much snow. Worry has never caused my family to decide to just get along.
But, and this is where my Mom’s defense that “she’s not worried, she’s just concerned” comes into play. Jesus tells us to not worry – therefore worry is a sin! And worry does nothing to resolve the issues that plague our lives and souls and families. But, being concerned (and sometimes we use the word “worry” when we really mean “concern”), being concerned might cause us to actually do something helpful if it causes us to do two things:
- PREPARE – that means that we do something about that which we have a concern. – Eat better, and exercise; budget my income and stop wasting money on things that do not provide life; rake the snow off the edges of the roof, or pay someone else to do it; get our families together to see each others’ sides in their disagreement and pain and hurt. – PREPARE – do something!
- PRAY – get on our knees, lift to the Lord, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things God will take care of. My health is somewhat under my control, but sickness can/will attack without warning or any degree of fairness; more bills can arrive in the mail than there is money in the bank; trees will fall on my roof even after the snow is raked off; my sister may never forgive my brother regardless of how much work I put into their relationship! So we PRAY – because what is impossible for us is not at all impossible for God!
There are things we can do – PREPARE and PRAY.
This section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount names three reasons for why we should not worry:
- Jesus says that Life is more than FOOD and CLOTHES. We worry about where our food and clothes come from, but Jesus says, Seek first His Kingdom – let Him take care of these needs.
- Jesus says that GOD takes care of the BIRDS; surely He also takes care of us (who are worth far more than the birds).
- Jesus says that Worrying adds NOTHING to our lives – not a year, not a month, not even an hour. In fact, if anything, worrying robs us of peace – it robs us of rest – and it completely robs us of satisfaction. All worrying does is rob us from that trusting relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Why is it a sin to worry? [Because Jesus says, “Don’t worry!” Disobedience to Christ is a sin, right? Therefore worry is a sin. Because worry separates us from God. To worry is to not trust. Do you worry that your doctor is prescribing the wrong meds? You don’t trust her? Do you worry that your mechanic is ripping you off with his auto repair? You don’t trust him? Do you worry about your spouse being out late again? You don’t trust him? We worry about our health, our finances, our home, our family? We don’t trust that God is able? That God loves you? That God is even there?]
Friends, know that God does indeed, truly, love you! John’s Gospel tells us that God loves you so much that He gave His one and only Son, that if you believe in Him you will not perish but have everlasting life! – Matthew 6:33 tells us that if we put God as our top priority, if we trust Him, if we treat Him as our Lord, He will provide for us our needs – Allow me to invite you to believe Him.
One way to repent of our sin of worry is to put Matthew 6:33 in action.
Let’s decide, today, to form a partnership with God, and let Him do the work of worrying….
Gracious God, Grace-filled God, Grace-giving God, we recognize our own idolatry – self-sufficiency, simple lack of trust – and today we bow before You as the King of all kings, the Creator of the universe, the only One with the authority and the ability to actually conquer sin; and today, we choose to prioritize above all else Your Word and Your will for our lives, we want to experience Your power and love in brand new ways, and so we seek after Your Kingdom purposes and today we start to place our confidence in Your promise of grace. We expect to experience Your peace, to be refreshed in Your rest, and to discover Your perfect satisfaction for our hopes and fears. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
McLaren, Ross, editor; Advanced Bible Study: Winter 2002-2003; Lifeway Christian Resources; Pp. 50-56.