July 19, 2015
Intro – A guy goes to his psychiatrist and says, “Sometimes I think I’m a tepee; sometimes I think I’m a wigwam.” The psychiatrist says, “Your problem is simple -- you’re two tents!” Pretty universal these days! Someone said, “If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs -- you’re probably not paying attention!” Isn’t it ironic that while we are the most affluent society in history, we are also the most stressed out, worried and anxiety-ridden society in history! No worry goes unnamed, undefined, undiagnosed or unmedicated. Yet relief is unattainable.
Why? Because humanistic philosophy has defined God out of existence – at least in terms of having an active interest in our existence. But that has significant implications. It is terrifying to think that no one is home guiding meaningless cosmic processes that are going nowhere! Pile on the stress of daily life and no wonder we have anxiety disorders driving a $55 billion psychological and counseling business.
The solution to anxiety is in Heb 12:1-2: “. . . let us also lay aside every weight (worry), and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Trust a great God and anxiety has to leave the building. On the other hand, coddle anxiety and we diminish and deny God. How?
I. Destroys God’s Peace (22, 29, 32) – The very word “anxious” means to be fragmented, distracted, looking for answers everywhere but God.
II. Defies God’s Perspective (23) – God’s view is v. 23, “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” If this life is all there is, then survival would be the greatest good. But Jesus has come from beyond to testify to an eternal existence which changes everything.
III. Devalues God’s Provisions (24, 27-28) – Anxiety rejects God’s provisions in favor of my own definition of what I need. All the time God has provided what I really need to accomplish His mission for my life.
IV. Denies God’s Providence (27) – Worry tries to control things outside our control. Time wasted on such things is a denial of God’s providential care in my life. Now, let’s look at the last 3.
V. Disavows God’s Parenthood (30)
30) For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.” Fascinating! Why does Jesus suddenly start talking about the nations? He’s reminding these disciples that they are different. The nations don’t have a Father to supply their needs. They should worry. Their anxiety is well-placed. They’re on their own. They should worry from sun-up to sundown and then wake up in the middle of the night to worry some more. They have no heavenly Father. They are alone in the universe!
But it’s totally different for believers! “Your Father knows that you need them [food and clothing].” Quit living like the rest of the world. Anxiety disavows God’s Fatherhood. You look like the unbeliever who has no recourse when you have the greatest Father ever. So live like it! Pursue His agenda and not only will you increase your happiness exponentially, not only will you fulfill your God-ordained mission and find meaning in life, you’ll be laying up treasure in heaven. Why get to the end of a worry-filled life only to find that everything your worried about was in your salvation package the whole time. You wasted your worried life away. Wouldn’t that be a bummer?! Going to happen to a lot of people who are disavowing their heavenly Father.
When believers cherish the same ambitions, chase the same goals, utilize the same manipulations, attend the same parties, read the same literature, prefer the same songs, suffer the same anxieties and pursue the same remedies as the world, something is drastically wrong. They either really are not part of the family at all, or they are living as tho they were not. We have Phil 4:19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” So why worry? “Your Father knows that you need them,” and He has promised to supply them. Why worry? I’ll tell you why. It’s because we’re pursuing our agenda, not His. We should worry. We’ve left the embrace of the Father to pursue the world’s agenda. We should worry!
My first day of school. We lived on a farm near Columbus, NE, and I headed off to District 54 -- a country school of 25 farm kids from K-8. The school was about a mile from home, most of what was a lane from our house to the main road. It was an adventure as I started out, lunch pail in hand. But the farther I went, the more I began to consider ominous possibilities – like our neighbor’s vicious black angus bull. It was no idle concern. I had seen that bull get loose, wander up to our farm and pick a fight with our normally docile Hereford, Oaky. It was scary stuff to watch that fight, so the longer I walked that morning, the more I remembered and the slower I went. And the slower I walked, the more I thought about that bull getting out until pretty soon, I wasn’t headed toward school at all. I was headed back home as fast as I could go. Naturally Mom and Dad wanted to know what the problem was, and shortly I was once walking toward school, quick as you please and without a care in the world. Why? Because my hand was in the big farmer hand of my Dad, and I didn’t fear anything. I knew Dad wouldn’t let anything bad happen. The circumstances did not change one iota. But my companionship with my father made all the difference.
Is your hand in the hand of the Father, Beloved? There is no fear there. But it takes two things. First, you have to seek Him out and put it there. He’s not going to chase you down. Second, you have to go in His direction. Seek His kingdom. Give up your own empire. Live like a citizen of heaven rather than a stooge of this world. Don’t disavow the Father by anxiety; embrace Him.
VI. Deflates God’s Pleasure (31-33)
V. 32 is wonderful: ““Fear not (don’t worry), little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” What’s Christmas like as a parent? Is it all about getting presents? Is that what revs your engine at Christmas? Of course not! It’s about seeing your kids open their presents, isn’t it? That’s a turn-on. And that’s the feeling that Jesus appeals to here. He reminds them, “Listen, the Father has nothing but your best at heart. You can trust Him absolutely. His greatest pleasure is to give to you, not take from you.” To give what? To give you the whole kingdom! That has massive implications. We read God’s commands as restrictive, as limiting, as fun-prevention and pleasure-draining disciplines. In fact, they are the portal to the most massive joy that exists in the universe. No wonder He wants us to open the package! But when we get anxious and set out to be the solution to our own problems, we deflate the pleasure of God. We leave unspeakable blessings unopened.
Now, to get the impact of this, we must ask, what is the kingdom? It has two elements. It is first and foremost the rule of God in repentant hearts. Thus Paul says in Rom 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” When we are worried about eating and drinking, we are not seeking the kingdom of God, but our own kingdom. Jesus tells Pilate in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Jesus’ kingdom is at its core a spiritual kingdom that can be entered only by a re-birth. Thus He tells Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again (or born from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The entrance requirement is a regeneration resulting from repentance of sin and placing our faith in Christ as Lord and Master. Jesus tells the Pharisees in Lu 17:20, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed.” The kingdom begins unseen in hearts that respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ that offers forgiveness for sin.
This is the element the Jews just could not get their arms around. They were 100% focused on the earthly element of the kingdom – where Messiah rules and reigns politically. That will happen too. What starts small in responsive hearts eventually grows into the rulership of Christ over all the earth. Jesus says in Lu 13:29, “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.” Perfection will reign in a new heaven and earth. Rev 21:3-4 describes this briefly: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Everywhere you turn for the first million years, you will be saying, “Amazing!” That’s what the Father longs to give us, Beloved. But it has to start with the rule of God in our heart. You can’t have the second element of the kingdom without having the first. Both are great; both are necessary.
But now notice, while v. 32 tells us “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” v 31 commands, “seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Why must we seek it if He is giving it to us? Great question. Let me take you back to Christmas. See the package under the tree? The Father’s gift? There it is. All wrapped up with your name on it. But do you see it is of absolutely no use to you – until you open it?! Do you see that? He gives, but you must seek. You’ve got to open it. How do you do that? Jesus answers, “Repent, (why?) for the kingdom of God is at hand.” There’s the entrance requirement. First order of business, open your heart in repentance to the Father, seeking His forgiveness on the basis of Christ’s death paying the penalty for your sins. That’s the biggest package under the tree. You must open it first! It’s the Father’s good pleasure to give it to you if you’ll accept it.
BUT there’s more! How do we seek the kingdom? Look at v. 33, “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.” Whoa! That doesn’t sound like much of a present. Give away what I have, when I’m already worried about getting more? How can that be good? Read further: “Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” Jesus is saying – “While you’re busy worrying about food and clothing for this life, the Father has given you the gift of giving. Open it up. Quit worrying what you don’ t have – begin sharing what you do have. That fills up moneybags in heaven! Quit worrying and start investing!” There’s a challenge!
Now Jesus isn’t saying literally give away everything. He’s speaking in hyperbole. But the message is give where and how and when you can. You’re not losing it; you’re just moving it out of time into eternity! When you worry about here and now, man, you’re not seeking too much – you’re seeking way too little! When you are coveting something here, your problem is you don’t want nearly enough! You are settling for way too little. The Father wants to give you the whole eternal kingdom of heaven – and you’re focused on 15 years of retirement! You want a Lexus; He wants to give your permanent streets of gold. You want a bigger house; He wants to give you a mansion. That’s why we’re never satisfied. We’re seeking too little!
Jesus says in Mt 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” There was an expensive ski boat in a CA harbor one time with “Matthew 6:33” painted on the hull. I’m guessing the guy thought he had his boat because God was first in his life. But he was seeking way too little! A boat?! Kent Hughes tells of seeing a large luxury car in a church parking lot with a license plate that read, “TITHE.” The message was clear. “I gave to God and look what He gave me. If you gave like I do, you could have one too.” Is that what this is all about?
Beloved, God’s promise is that if we seek Him first, He’ll take care of the necessities of life, not the luxuries. If that’s what the verse meant Donald Trump would be the most righteous guy around. Don’t think that’s the case. The reward is in giving, not getting. That moves treasure from time to eternity! Come on! We seek too little. Open the packages. Give what you have. The Father glories in seeing us lay up treasure in heaven. It’s forever!
C. S. Lewis says, “Indeed, if we consider the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” To be satisfied with even the luxuries of this life is a waste. It deflates the Father’s pleasure. He wants more for us that we do!
VII. Depreciates God’s Person (34)
34 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Is your heart where God is – or is it on lock-down on earth? What is salvation? Salvation is submitting wholly and without reservation to Christ as Lord. Salvation is placing Him on the throne of my life in place of Self. Salvation is owning Him as the most precious thing in life. Salvation is saying with Asaph in Psa 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Salvation is knowing God is the greatest treasure of all. See, laying up treasure in heaven can be done by giving time and money and prayer to God’s work. But the ultimate treasure is God Himself. To know Him is to have treasure in heaven. When that is the case, our heart will follow. We will not be anxious and worried and distraught over the things of this life. We simply will not. They will pale by comparison. When we are worried and anxious and troubled about many things, like Martha trying to get dinner for the Lord – when that is our mode of operation, we are depreciating God’s Person – making things more important than Him.
Remember the old George Bev Shea song, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold; I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands; I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand, I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause; I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause; I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame; I’d rather be true to His holy name, Than to be the king of a vast domain And be held in sin’s dread sway; I’d rather have Jesus than anything This world affords today.” May I say, when you can say that and mean it, you’re not going to worried about very much that’s going on. Your anxiety will melt in the light of the greatness of His Person, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Conc – Why not worry? Because it Destroys God’s peace; Defies God’s perspective; Devalues God’s provisions; Denies God’s providence; Disavows God’s parenthood; Deflates God’s pleasure and Depreciates God’s person. If you are willing to do all that, go for it. Otherwise, Beloved, let’s raise our sights higher – beyond the needs of the moment, beyond the requirement of tomorrow, beyond the horizon of this life and into eternity where our God and Savior resides. Let’s put our trust in Him.
Victor Hugo once said, “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, don’t worry, go to sleep in peace.” Why? “God is awake!” That’s biblical! Psa 121:3 “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” He is always on the job. Don’t depreciate Him with worry. Enlarge Him with trust. Let’s pray. Song – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.