Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifea? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Last week, we heard a powerful message on forgiveness from Dan Mannion. Dan took us to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and we looked at the man of tombs. Thank you, Dan!
This week we come back to our good friend and Gospel writer, Dr. Luke. Over the past few years, we have been slowly walking with Dr. Luke through the Gospel of Luke. The overall title of this sermon series is “Living With Luke.” The church year is filled with programming: we do FALL programming, then that flows into Advent and Christmas followed by the New Year. After that, we do seven weeks of Lent and Easter and then another seven weeks of Pentecost. Finally, it’s summer! Summertime is a time when pastors can breathe and try to relax. A few years ago, I felt like I was supposed to bring our church through a Gospel—little did I know I was taking on quite a project! We are only in chapter 12 after two years! There are 24 chapters in Luke’s Gospel. We have two more summers of Luke until we finish! Maybe this week’s message is for me! “Don’t Worry!!!”
Two weeks ago, the message was “Don’t be a Fool.” Jesus was teaching the crowd that followed him about the rich fool. The rich fool had built more and more storage barns for all his treasure. The problem is that he kept everything for himself. What good is it for us to gain the whole world but lose God in the process?
Jesus now turns to his disciples and gives them a message about worry.
Before we come to the Living Word, let us come to the Living Lord in prayer. “Lord, God of all creation, You cast the stars into the skies and you know each one by name. You feed the birds of the air and clothe the earth with all its beauty. Teach us today how to cast our cares upon you. May Your Word be alive and redemptive and fill us with life and hope. Amen”
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.[i]
Today’s message is a three-point message. Three points and poem! Three Points and poem! Three points and poem! That is what my preaching professor used to say over and over and over again. Today you get three points --- sorry no poem!!!
1.WHAT IS WORRY?
What is worry? What are the symptoms of worry? What is the solution for worry?
The English word “worry” comes from the old German word “to strangle or choke.” That is exactly what worry does, isn’t it? Worry strangles our lives, it chokes the life out of us. Listen to how Merriam-Webster defines the verb “worry:”
wor•ried; wor•ry•ing [Middle English worien, from Old English wyrgan; akin to Old High German wurgen to strangle, Lithuanian veržti to constrict] verb transitive before 12th century
1 dialect British: choke, strangle
2 a: to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat
b: to shake or pull at with the teeth 〈a terrier worrying a rat〉
c: to touch or disturb something repeatedly
d: to change the position of or adjust by repeated pushing or hauling
3 a: to assail with rough or aggressive attack or treatment: torment
b: to subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort
4: to afflict with mental distress or agitation: make anxious[ii]
I read an interesting quote in one of my commentaries the other day about worry. “Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.”[iii]
Have you been to the Grand Canyon? That one little river cut through and grooved out the GRAND CANYON. The next time you are prone to worry, think about that!
The Greek word that Jesus used for worry is “μεριμνάω [merimnao /mer·im·nah·o/], and it comes from a root word that means “to be drawn into two different directions.”
Worry draws us in two different directions. Worry chokes and strangles. Worry harasses us, pulls at us, assails us, nags us, and afflicts us with mental anguish. Worry is that thin stream of fear that drains our minds of all other thoughts.
So Who Here Worries?
There was an interesting statistic that came from the Bureau of Standards. They discovered that if a dense fog covered a seven-city block to a depth of one hundred feet the actual amount of water would be less than an actual glass of a water. The Bureau of Statistics came up with the statistic of sixty million droplets of water in a seven-city block of fog one hundred feet in depth. If all seven city blocks of fog were condensed into water, it wouldn't quite fill a drinking glass. Now think of that for a moment.
Think of it this way, a few gallons of water can cripple an entire city.
One summer, our family drove around the east coast of Lake Michigan in Northern Michigan. We decided it would be a great experience to take the ferry across Lake Michigan to Door County in Norhtern Wisconsin. Not long after we boarded the ferry, a fog set in that was so dense you could not see five feet in front of you. The captain of the ship came on the intercom and explained that the fog horn would be sounding every five minutes. We heard that fog horn every five minutes for two hours!
Fog so dense you could not see. It was a terrifying feeling. Compare this to the things we worry about. Like fog, our worries can thoroughly block our vision. It was impossible to keep a conversation going because every five minutes the fog horn blasted for a minute.
Worry pulls us in two different directions, worry chokes and strangles, worry makes us feel anxious. Worry is a deep, dark cloud of fog that can envelope our life—leaving within us the worn out and grooved Grand Canyon of anxiety, doubt, and fear.
2.SYMPTOMS OF WORRY
In December of 2005, a team of Australian researchers scientifically confirmed a long-suspected link between emotional stress and illness. The group from Sydney's Garvan Institute discovered that a hormone called neuropeptide Y (NPY) is released into the body during times of emotional stress. This hormone undermines the body's immune system and literally makes you sick.
According to the Institute's Fabienne Mackay, "During periods of stress, nerves release a lot of NPY, and it then gets into the bloodstream where it inhibits the cells in the immune system that look out for and destroy pathogens in the body." She added, "That stress makes you sick is no longer a myth; it is a reality and we need to take it seriously.”[iv]
Did you all hear that? Worry causes stress and stress weakens the immune system. Worry is also bad on the heart according to medical doctors. Dr. Charles Mayo, of the Mayo Clinic once wrote, “Worry affects the circulation of the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have met a lot who died of worry.”[v]
As I thought about that statement, I thought about all the different people that I have counseled throughout my years of ministry. I thought about all the different bedsides that I have sat beside. I truly believe Dr. Mayo is right; worry can put the hurry on physical death. I would also like to add that worry can also put the hurry spiritual death. I have witnessed the shipwreck of many of the faithful as they were tossed to and fro by the winds, waves and storms of worry, anxiety and stress.
No wonder Jesus spent so much time talking about worry. Jesus was telling us light-years ahead of the Mayo Clinic: worry will cause untold health problems.
3.SOLUTIONS FOR WORRY
A good teacher knows that repetition is the way to bring the teaching point home. Jesus is a good teacher! In these verses, Jesus says four times, in verses 21, 25, 26 and 29 --- “Do not worry!”
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.” Luke 12:21
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Luke 12:25
“Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Luke 12:26
“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.” Luke 12:29
Jesus spoke the words “You of little faith” several times to His disciples and those who followed him. Once when the storm was so strong on the lake and Jesus was asleep in the boat. The disciples were afraid and woke Jesus up! Jesus replies, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matthew 8:26 The next time Jesus says, “You of little faith” was when Peter started to sink as he tried to walk on water. Peter took his eyes off Jesus. We are told by Matthew that “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith,” Jesus said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31 The third time we hear these powerful words --- “you of little faith” is when the disciples were worried about not having bread to eat. Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?” Matthew 16:8
We are in good company when we hear these words --- “you of little faith.” When Jesus spoke these words, they were spoken to those who believed in Him and already had faith. Jesus wanted their faith to be stronger and bigger. Jesus didn’t want His disciples to worry about what would of, could of and should of happened.
I read a story about Abraham Lincoln that illustrates this principle:
When Lincoln was on his way to Washington to be inaugurated, he spent some time in New York with Horace Greeley and told him an anecdote that was meant to be an answer to the question everybody was asking him: Are we really going to have a civil war? In his circuit-riding days Lincoln and his companions, riding to the next session of court, had crossed many swollen rivers on one particular journey, but the formidable Fox River was still ahead of them. They said one to another, “If these streams give us so much trouble, how shall we get over the Fox River?” When darkness fell, they stopped for the night at a log tavern, where they fell in with the Methodist presiding elder of the district who rode through the country in all kinds of weather and knew all about the Fox River. They gathered about him and asked him about the present state of the river. “Oh, yes,” replied the circuit rider, “I know all about the Fox River. I have crossed it often and understand it well. But I have one fixed rule with regards to the Fox River—I never cross it till I reach it.”[vi]
What’s the solution for worry? What’s the opposite emotion of worry? Let’s go straight to the text. Jesus says, “O you of little faith. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” Luke 12:31-32
The solution for worry is faith. How often do we cross the proverbial Fox River before we ever reach it? The trick is to trade worry for faith. Once we reach the Fox River, then we deal with how to cross it. We can waste so much time if the Fox River takes over our focus.
How do we gain more faith? How do we seek the kingdom of God first and his righteousness?
Here’s your homework lesson for this week: take a blank piece of paper and write on one side of the paper at the very top “WORRY” --- “leads to stress, anxiety and even death!” Under “worry” write all the things that you worry about. On the other side of the paper write, “FAITH!” When Jac and I made the decision for me to go to seminary, we had it all planned it all out. I would work for the family business until the week that seminary started. I got fired ten weeks before seminary started. There went all of our best laid plans! I was worried! How would I make our house payment? How would I pay for food? How would I pay our bills? No job equaled no insurance. What if one of the five us got sick? Friends, it was praying time in the Peters house!
Seriously, Jac and I were sick with worry. Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. You go nowhere…just back and forth over the same two feet—forwards a foot, backwards a foot. After a few days of being worried, I felt like the Lord asked me to get out a piece of blank paper. At the top of the paper, I wrote:
“DEAR GOD:” At the bottom of the paper, I wrote: “Thank you for filling in this blank page of our lives” and we signed it. I put that paper on the wall in my commuter seminary room—three hours away from home. God had a plan. Our community came together. People started dropping bags of food off at our doorstop…and because it was a small town—they knew where we hid our key. People came in and filled our cupboards and frig and freezer. We received bills in the mail—but they were marked, PAID. We didn’t pay them, someone else had paid our electricity, our gas, our water, our trash and even our property taxes.
Paul wrote to the church in Philippi these words of encouragement: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jac loved this verse and she started writing on index cards every single one of our needs. Then she would place it face down on the stove vent. As we would walk by the index card, we’d say, “I’m not going to worry about how you are going to pay this bill. I am letting my requests be made known to you, God. Keep us focused on the big picture. And THANK YOU.” Soon Jac began keeping track of every donation. She started with a tiny, little basket. We ended up with a huge picnic basket! Do you know that over our three years of seminary, we received about $20,000 in donations each year? Our income was a whopping $21,000—but with all of those donations—we made it. Jac and I felt like Jimmy Stewart at the end of “It’s A Wonderful Life” movie! God had grown our faith from this tiny basket of faith into a huge, picnic basket sized faith!
Here’s the assignment again: take one sheet of blank paper, on one side write: WORRY and on the other side write: FAITH. Under WORRY, write down all of the things you are worrying about. On the other side, write down Philippians 4:4-7.
1. The Grand Canyon of Worry wants to choke the life out of us.
2. Worry releases neuropeptides which will make us sick—body, mind, and spirit.
3. The prescription for worry? FAITH
My lovely wife found several Faith acronyms this past week. Here are a few;
Forwarding Full Forsaking Forwarding Full
All Assurance All All Assurance
Issues It will I Issues In
To Truly Trust To The
Him Happen Him Heaven Heart
I did find a little poem to end with!!!
Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
They have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.”
The Seed Christian Fellowship
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91701
August 13, 2017
Pastor Dave Peters
[i] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Lk 12:22–34). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[ii] Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.
[iii] John MacArthur, Matthew, 1985, Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute
[iv] "Australian Scientists Find Proof That Stress Makes You Sick," Breitbart.com (12-4-05)
[v] John MacArthur, Matthew, 1985, Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute
[vi] Clarence Macartney, Macartney’s Illustrations (New York: Abingdon Press, 1946), p. 415.
[vii] Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke: that you may know the truth (p. 52). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Lk 12:22–34). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.