PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
MATTHEW 6:25-34 19 FEBRUARY 2023 We are living in an age when there seems to always be some kind of turmoil and terror happening throughout the country and the world. Those troubles are between individuals, between groups of people, and, of course, between nations. Over and over again we witness how cruel people can be, and we witness the trend which seems to show how cheaply human life is regarded by some. Again & again, we’ve witnessed how cruel people can be, & how cheaply human life is regarded by some.
Over and over again, we are shocked by the turmoil that has arisen, not just among individuals, but even between nations - Russia and Ukraine – threats and uneasiness with China.
Again and again, we’ve witnessed how cruel people can be, and how cheaply human life is regarded by some.
All of that can make us just wish it away. But it doesn’t go away that easily. Instead, I believe, it is time for us to pay attention to the words of Jesus where He challenges us to focus not on our worries and fears, but on the faithfulness of God.
TEXT: Matthew 6:25 34
Before 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the common belief was that if a ship from Europe sailed too far west, it would either fall off the edge of the world or face terrible dangers.
In England, there is an ancient nautical map dating back to the time of King Henry IV. On it, the mapmakers wrote these words over the Atlantic Ocean: "Here be dragons; Here be demons; Here be danger." And based on such superstitions, sailors were afraid of sailing west.
But there was an English navigator named John Franklin who was a mighty man of God. He knew the Bible says that God “sits above the circle of the earth.” He took a copy of that map & crossed out those fearful warnings & added these 3 words: "HERE BE GOD!"
As servants of God, we need to know that as we sail toward our darkest fears and our deepest worries, "Here Be God!" God is there to keep and sustain us in those troublesome times and situations.
Job discovered that. He was able to look through his tears and say: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth." (Job 19:25)
Our Universe is so large scientists can't measure it. No one has ever measured the universe. But the Bible says in Isaiah 40:12 that God measures the heavens with the span of His hand. So, when your world is crumbling, the most important thing you can do is place yourself in God's hands. If God is so powerful that He can measure the heavens or the universe with the span of his hand, I think we can all agree that the safest place to be in this universe is in the hands of God.
We realize that in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6) Jesus was not speaking on the subject of war. But He is showing us where our focus should be in times of trouble. We must focus on the power and the faithfulness of God - instead of on whatever worries us the most. That truth is as valid today as it was the day Jesus spoke the words.
Listen to what He says in Matthew 6:25-34, "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?
“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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? “See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”
“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?
“So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
I. THE COMMAND - "DO NOT WORRY"
Three times in this passage Jesus commands us, "Do not worry." The KJ version says it like this: "Do not be anxious." What does He mean by that? The Greek word translated "worry" literally means “to be drawn or pulled in different directions.” And that is exactly what worry does to us. Worry can tear us apart emotionally and destroy us.
I believe that worry is one of the Devil’s greatest weapons. It can steal your joy. It can eliminate your contentment and your happiness. And what is ridiculous is that most of the time we worry about things that haven’t taken place and often never do. Worry is futile it accomplishes nothing.
Author Alistair MacLean quotes this story from Tauler, a German mystic: One day Tauler met a beggar. "God give you a good day, my friend." he said. The beggar answered, "I thank God I never had a bad one."
Then Tauler said, "God give you a happy life, my friend." "I thank God," said the beggar, "I am never unhappy."
Amazed, Tauler asked, "What do you mean?" The beggar said, "Well," When the weather is fine, I thank God; when it rains, I thank God; when I have plenty, I thank God; when I’m hungry, I thank God; and since God’s will is my will, and what-ever pleases Him, pleases me, why should I say I’m unhappy when I’m not?"
Tauler looked at the man, puzzled. He asked the beggar: "Who are you?" "I am a king," said the beggar. "Where then is your kingdom?" asked Tauler. And the beggar answered quietly: "In my heart."
Isaiah 26:6 says, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."
And that is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 6. He is telling the people not to let anxiety, worry, or fear take control of their lives. So how can we win over worry? There is no magic spell or no miracle pill. But there are changes in attitude that can help us develop a spirit of calmness & peace.
II. THE CURE FOR WORRY
In Matthew 6:26 Jesus tells us that we should observe the birds and learn to trust God's providential care. He says, "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."
Sometimes our lives get so busy we don’t take the time to appreciate the simple things of life. It is at those times we need to slow down and reflect on the promises of God. We need to review and remember these verses: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” as David the Psalmist encourages us. (Psalm 23:1)
Or we should take comfort in knowing what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 3:20 – “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”.
And, in Romans 8:28 where Paul further encourages us by writing: “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”
And the Apostle John in one of his short letters to the church where his encouragement tells us this: “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Trusting God doesn't mean that we become lazy about our leaning on God or become indifferent. It means realizing that God is taking care of us. Knowing it and believing it and living as we know it.
That's what makes worry a serious sin. In reality, what we are doing is accusing God of being a liar. God says, "I will meet all your needs according to my riches in Christ Jesus."- Philippians 4:19. If we can trust in that promise, and we can, we can kick worry out and declare the truth –“I believe He will supply my needs."
God says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart & lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5,6). Worry says, "I don't believe God will direct my future."
Jesus promised, "I am with you always" (Matt. 28:20) Worry says, “I'm all alone."
We must make a reasonable effort, and God has promised to provide for our needs. It's a matter of believing in His promises and being content with what He has supplied.
Sometimes we need to assess our priorities and maintain them.
Humans are more valuable than birds. And Jesus says we are to "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and then the things of this world will be added to us.”
Here is the proper order of the Christian’s priorities:
God, People (with an emphasis on family), Job, and then self.
When we keep these priorities in order, God promises to supply every need. But worry gets in the way and messes up our priorities. The job may become more important than family; self becomes more important than others. And we get off track.
As a result, our responsibilities seem greater than our resources, and our energy is sapped by anxiety, fear, and worry. But when we trust God, we keep our priorities in order. We don't just say it; we do it, and God supplies what we need - especially peace of mind.
Io you know that the word “peace” is used 220 times in Scripture? It is often linked with the word “righteousness”. And when it is, the word “righteousness” always comes first. What that tells us is that if we seek peace, we must seek righteousness first.
Another place we must focus is on those things which are eternal, rather than that which is temporary. This puts our focus on the unseen rather than on that which is seen.
2 Kings 6 tells the story of the prophet Elisha and his servant as they were staying in the town of Dothan.
The King of Aram (Syria today) was at war with Israel, but every time he planned a surprise attack God would tell Elisha to warn the King of Israel.
So the army of Israel would be there in force, waiting for the Syrians when they attacked. As a result, the Syrian army was blocked in everything it tried to do.
2 Kings 6:11-12 tells us, “This enraged the king of Aram.” He was convinced that one of his officers must be spying for Israel. So, He summoned his officers and demanded of them, ‘Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?
‘None of us, my Lord the king,’ said one of his officers, ‘but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.’”
Once they convinced him, the King of Aram sent a major portion of his army in an all-night march to surround Dothan to capture Elisha.
Early the next morning, when Elisha’s servant got up and looked out over the city wall, he saw the great enemy army surrounding the town. Terrified, he ran back to Elisha to tell him what he had seen.
You can almost hear him gasping for breath as he cries out, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15) The servant here is a victim of worry.
But Elisha is calm and says something his servant didn’t understand at all. He said, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16)
The servant must have thought Elisha was hallucinating because even counting every man, woman, and child, there weren’t as many people in Dothan as there were in the huge army surrounding them.
But then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” And the Bible says, “Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17) Elisha’s servant was totally unaware that there was a heavenly army surrounding the people of God.
What we can learn from this account is that what is unseen is more important than what is seen. It says, what we find in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
“Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
“So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Jesus says, "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has trouble enough of its own." (Matt. 6:34)
The Lord didn't say, "Don't worry about tomorrow because nothing bad will ever happen to you." He said that there will be troubles. But He also promised us spiritual resources to cope with them.
One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford, Connecticut suddenly darkened. Some of the representatives in the Connecticut legislature glanced out the windows. They feared the end of the world was at coming. Calming the cries for immediate adjournment, Colonel Davenport, speaker of the House of Representatives, rose and said, “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty.”
We spend so much time worrying about tomorrow, fearing for what may or may not happen, that we often forget that a Christian has nothing to fear as long as we remain faithful to the calling that God has given us.
Rather than fearing what is to come, we would be much better off taking comfort in the fact that nothing happens to a child of God without our Lord’s faithful hand guiding it first.
As Jesus said, “…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)
Therefore, trust God to provide, and live one day at a time. Let the words of the psalmist be your guide. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice & be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).
Said the robin to the sparrow, "I would really like to know.
Why those anxious humans rush about & worry so."
Said the sparrow to the robin, "I think it must be,
That they have no heavenly Father such as cares for you & me."