(I am changing the way I preach, so for the full text you will need to listen to the audio file. Below are the notes I made to preach from.)
Today, I am preaching a sermon on not worrying while I am worrying about my daughter. It is one thing to trust Jesus for my future and rely on God to provide for me, but there is something about looking at that little face and hearing her cries of fear and distress, that challenges my ability to trust God to provide for her. Intellectually I understand that God’s love for her is deeper than mine ever could be, but when those we love are in danger our intellect usually gets pushed out of the driver’s seat. Here is the strange piece though: as much as I am afraid and worried there is still a comfort that comes from knowing that others are praying and from having my feet planted on the firm foundation before the current storm of life rose up. That is what Jesus is doing here in the Sermon on the Mount, he is laying a foundation for His disciples to stand on when the storms come. He said to his disciples:
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[e]? 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. Matthew 5:25-34
Let’s do a quick recap of the Sermon on the Mount to put what we just read in context. Jesus had just called the disciples and saw the large crowds already beginning to form. He pulled the disciples aside and began to teach them by turning the expectations on good attitudes upside down. Jesus base level foundation was that God especially blessed the people who were going through tough times, didn’t have it all together, and knew they needed outside help to make it. He then told them that they were blessed to be persecuted for living by different priorities. Jesus then confronted the disciples with the need to practice our piety in ways that glorify God, not in ways that glorify self. Then in teaching them to pray gives them a simple prayer designed to align themselves with God’s agenda rather than get more stuff out of God. He then taught the disciples that putting God’s priorities first means that their loyalties cannot be divided between God and anything else. Only God is worthy of our loyalty and praise. Anything else, no matter how seemingly helpful is a distraction. Two weeks ago we looked at the distraction of material wealth and the ways that can divide our loyalty from God. That is the extent of what I have scripted for this week as the aforementioned distraction kicked in for another hospital run. I still felt led to speak on this scripture this week that God would give me the right words when I came to speak.
- Don’t worry vs. don’t worry about.
- Mental illness – beyond control
- Specifics not generalities
- Food worry
- Clothes worry
- Kingdom priority
- Worry about the future
None of these teachings of Jesus is something we can do on our own, they require two things: the Holy Spirit to transform us and other followers of Jesus to carry us when we can’t take another step.