Last week, Ken talked about everyone’s favorite subject: money. Have you ever thought about the fact that the reason we hate talking about it so much is because of how much of an influence it has over our lives? We work each and every day for: money. We do or don’t do things because of: money. What we want we have to buy with: money. So we always seem to need more, so that we can have and do more. It’s no doubt that money is important in our lives, but that’s where the problem then lies. We put our first priority on getting more of it, so that we can do more, get more, and in our minds, be more.
As Ken said, money is an idol, and it’s a form of control. Money itself isn’t evil, it’s paper. God wants us to be wise with our finances, save for retirement, and provide for the family. The issue is the love of money. When we have money, we can easily feel like we are in control of what happens in our lives. When something happens, breaks, stops working, or we need something, we can take care of it with a certain amount of money. But because we put so much trust and reliance on paper, we aren’t trusting God. That’s why Jesus, before transitioning into today’s topic said,
“No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other: You cannot serve both God and money.”
With our money, we try to take control of life, and we try meet every need, meet every worry, and meet every fear with it. But here’s something I know about you, whether you have lots of money or not: You still wrestle with worry. You’ve still got anxiety. You’ve still got fear of the unknown. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that everything in this life is uncertain, except our God. We cannot know what is coming tomorrow, no matter how much we prepare, no matter how much we save, no matter how much we have, and no matter how much money is in our bank accounts. We take it for granted that we will go to bed tonight and wake up in the morning, but that’s not for certain, is it? Proverbs 27:1 says,
“Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.”
No matter how much money you have, there will always be uncertainties that come that we cannot prepare for and that money won’t save us from. And we know that, which is why anxiety, worry, and fear have run rampant in our culture today. It doesn’t matter if we have a lot or a little, anxiety is something we all deal with, some of us a lot more than others. Psychology Today says, “Although the process of anxiety is undoubtedly universal and occurs in all cultures, diagnosable anxiety appears to affect Western society, in particular us Americans, more than other cultures.”
What are we so worried about?
Now, I’m not a doctor, and I won’t ever pretend to be (trust me), but I don’t think it’s ironic that America, home of the American Dream, with more luxuries than most people dream of, with the pressure to be successful in the eyes of our peers, size -4, and to be perfect in every way, it’s not ironic that America has more anxiety than any other culture. It’s not surprising, really. We’ve become so reliant on our money, that we are extremely fearful of all that we can’t prepare for, that are out of our control, and of things money can’t stop or fix. We all worry about different things. I wouldn’t believe anyone in here if they said they aren’t worried about anything.
What do you worry about the most? What brings you the most anxiety?
Perhaps you’re worried about: Bills, school debt, becoming seriously ill, or just getting too sick to go into work, people you love dying, a car crash, losing your job, meeting everybody’s standards, dying, or providing for your family. We’re worried about a lot, and it’s all about the future, what MIGHT happen.
Charles Spurgeon said,
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”
Here’s the good news: There is a cure. Here’s what Jesus says next, in today’s portion of His Sermon on the Mount:
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?
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 (or unbelievers) 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. NIV
2 weeks ago we look at Jesus’ model prayer, where smack in the middle, before getting to our wants and needs, we prayed, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Remember that? We then prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus wanted to come back to that idea and expand upon it here.
I feel like Jesus was really communicating a simple truth here, something His Father said to the sons of Korah in Psalm 46:
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
He’s saying, “Why is everyone so worried about the future? Do you really think that I won’t take care of you? I take care of all my creatures, each and every day. Birds, they don’t have bank accounts to rely on. They aren’t concerned with prestige and success. When it’s time to eat, I’ll take care of them. But you, you’re so worried about what’s next. Don’t you believe that if I can take care of the animals, I can take care of my own children? Wildflowers aren’t concerned about what all the other wildflowers look like, because they’re each beautiful. They aren’t spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on brand name clothes, makeup, fancy cars, and plastic surgery. They’re beautiful, just the way they are, just the way I created them. But you, you want to impress everyone, and fit in – to what end? Don’t you believe that I created you in My image, and that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made?”
Often we argue back, “Yeah, but I just don’t know what’s going to happen. How can I help my worry? My anxiety about tomorrow is crippling if I don’t do something. I have to work harder, save more, and prepare for whatever may happen. If I don’t, who will?” Now, if you’re a Christian, you may never say, “I don’t believe that God will take care of me” because that would go against what you’ve learned. But our actions show otherwise, and our worry and anxiety about the future tells us something: We don’t trust that God will take care of us.
But still Jesus says, “don’t worry about tomorrow.” How could we possibly get to a point where we aren’t worried anymore? How could we possibly get a point where we live for today, trusting that God will take care of us both today AND tomorrow? How do I cure my anxiety?
First, it comes back to how you view God. Again, this goes right back to what Jesus was teaching us to pray. In verse 33, Jesus tells us what to do: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. We are saying, “I trust you God, with whatever comes next in my life. I know that you are in control. It may not be what I want or expect, but not my will, but yours be done.” Do you believe that God is sovereign, over all? That He is all powerful, all knowledgeable, and all present?
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” ESV
Colossians 1:17 says, “He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” NLT
Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” NIV
Isaiah 46:9-10 says,
“Remember the things I have done in the past.
For I alone am God!
I am God, and there is none like me.
Only I can tell you the future
before it even happens.
Everything I plan will come to pass,
for I do whatever I wish.” NLT
God is over all, taking care of everything. Do you believe that? He is orchestrating everything according to His plan, working for the good of those who love Him. If you don’t believe that God is control of the universe, no wonder you’re worried about tomorrow! Then not only are you unsure, the God you worship is apparently unsure! Worry and anxiety will continue to cripple you unless you believe that God can take care of it, first and foremost. When we trust God with our lives, and trust that He will continue to provide for us, and not abandon us, Jesus says that we will certainly be provided for! We don’t have to worry any longer, knowing that God is in control.
Of course, even when we believe that God is sovereign, we still can struggle with worry. What else can we do? What are some practical ways, when I’m dealing with anxiety, worry, and fear in my life, to stop it?
There are 2 key verses I want us to look at. The first is from Philippians 4:6,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” NIV
The second verse is found in 1 Peter 5:7, and it’s fairly similar:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” NIV
The word for anxious in these verses have the same root as worry in Jesus’ teaching. The root is the word merimna (roll the r, mare em nah), and it’s translated to mean care, worry, or anxiety, and it literally means divided into parts, drawn in opposite directions. When we are anxious, what can we do about it? In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Basically, when you’re worried, pray about it! If you are having anxiety, pray about it! God, please take away this anxiety! Father, please take away my worry about my job. Father, please take away my fear of loved ones passing away. God, thank you for waking me up today, I know you’re in control, please take away the anxiety I’m having about ________.
You know, I used to be so anxious at night about dumb things as a kid, teenager, and even into adulthood. I would have these awful, scary things come to mind, and they’d keep me up. I’d be terrified laying in bed of what could happen: A break in, robbery, murderer, someone in my family crying out in fear, and as a kid things like Sabor from Tarzan creeping into my room (I’ll tell you what, that tiger was terrifying.) It continued to happen to me for years and years. I don’t deal with it nearly as much anymore, because you know what I do? I continue to pray. I continue to fix my eyes on Jesus during it. You better believe it still battles back. It’s not like a, God take away these fears! And everytime it’s just POOF, no more anxiety. It was a battle 99% of the time, but I just kept praying, taking my fearful, anxious thoughts and turning them into prayers, into thanksgiving, into thinking about how God was there with me.
Give it a shot next time you’re worrying about your future, or having an anxiety attack. It may very well be a battle. But praying, reading God’s Word, focusing on His Almighty Presence will win out in every thought. The key, I believe, is to keep fighting it, believing that God is sovereign over whatever worry is on your mind. You have to know that He is faithful and in control.
The word cast means to throw, to hurl, to toss, etc. Let’s read all the different ways 1 Peter 5:7 could read now. They all mean the same thing, but sometimes certain words click with us better. That’s why we have different translations of the Bible!
Throw all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Toss all your concern on him because he cares for you.
Hurl all your worry on him because he cares for you.
Throw all your cares on him because he cares for you.
There’s even medical research that shows that worry can trigger many different health problems! When we worry, according to Psychology Today, it sets off our Fight or Flight survival response, which causes a lot of changes in our bodies. “The systems more important for immediate survival, like blood pressure and heart rate to circulate more energy throughout the body, get turned up, and the ones not so important for immediate survival, like our immune system or digestion or fertility, get turned down.” If we stay in this for several weeks, lots of trouble can happen! Our elevated blood pressure and heart rate raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, our immune system is depressed, making it harder to fight off small and large disease, it can cause ulcers, digestive disorders, diabetes, depression, and can reduce your ability to form new memories and remember others! Not only does worry take our trust away from God, but it also can really take a toll on our bodies, and the way that we view life.
I have to stop here for just a moment to say 3 quick things, because I don’t want to be misleading here. First, when Jesus says “don’t worry” he isn’t saying, “don’t plan.” The King James Version of the Bible translates that phrase as, “take no thought.” That sounds like we should live day to day on a whim, and that thinking about the future is wrong. But that’s not what Jesus is trying to say here. Calendars aren’t evil. He wants us to save for retirement, He wants us to work hard towards a future. Yes, God’s will may change that, but it doesn’t mean we should be live each day without planning.
Secondly, don’t worry doesn’t mean don’t be negligent. It’s not like… hey my children are playing on the road, but God says not to worry so… Yeah, that’s not what He’s saying.
What we have to understand is that we still can contribute to what happens in the future. We still have a part. But after you’ve done all that you can do, don’t worry anymore. Do what you can do, and trust God to do the rest. For example, you’re applying for a college. You do all the requirements, but your grades aren’t what you hoped they’d be. It can be easy for seniors to apply for schools, with all the pressure of getting into their dream school, and worry until they find out their decision. But, just do all you can do, and trust God with the rest. Once you’ve applied, it’s out of your hands. You’ve worked hard in grade school, you’ve done what you need to, now let God handle it. Remember, He always knows and does what’s best for you.
Lastly, Kim has shown me, being the smart science person she is, that there is a degree of anxiety that is in need of medication because of the improper hormones being released and such. I don’t want to stand up here and say that if you suffer from extreme anxiety and worry that it’s completely because of a lack of faith. I’m not trying to insult what you’re going through. But I do believe that God is still greater. I do believe that most worry and anxiety people face is because of the unknown, because they can’t release control of their lives. But if you suffer extreme cases, continue to cast your cares on Him, but maybe look into further help.
But why? Why does God take care of us? How is it possible that I could have so much trust in a God I can’t see as to give up control? Why would our Father want to hear and take our worry, anxiety, and fear?
Because, He cares for you.
Let’s reread 1 Peter 5:7 once more:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” NIV
Do you understand how much he cares for you?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Loved: Agapaō (a gah pa oh)– to love, value, feel or manifest generous concern for, be faithful towards, to delight in
God loves you, He values you, He shows generous concern for you, He is faithful towards you, and He delights in YOU! He cares about you SO MUCH that He sent His Son into the world to DIE on a CROSS to SHOW you that and SAVE you from our sins! Do you understand how He cares for us? Do you understand what Jesus did to the extent that He did? THAT is why we are able to throw all of our worry at God… because He cares for us.
Here is the reality! We CAN’T handle life by ourselves! We have a God who loves, values, and delights in us. We have a God who wants us not to worry about our future, who wants us not to worry about our past, who wants us not to worry about our money, our relationships, or our health. Instead, He wants to TAKE that FROM us!
When I was thinking about how Jesus cares for us, I just think of my son Jacoby. He’s growing so fast, he’s learning new things all the time. But there’s one thing he hasn’t figured out yet. When he’s hungry, he goes from 0-100 real fast. He’s happy and laughing and then all of a sudden, he is upset and needs food. And it’s incredibly frustrating at this age, because as I’m getting his bottle ready, I’m trying to reassure him, I’m talking to him, “I’m getting it buddy! I’m making it now! Just another minute!” But he can’t understand me yet. To him, he’s worried he’s not going to eat. He’s probably wondering why I walk away from him when he gets upset, and he’s crying out of worry that I don’t have food for him. But I always come back to him, bottle in hand, give it to him, and he’s automatically better. His worry is gone.
The whole time, I was in control. I knew exactly what he needed. I was never going to let him go without food, even when he gets worried about it several times a day. He can’t always see that it’s coming. He doesn’t even always see me. But he’s my son. I would never leave him, and I’m always going to do what’s best for him. And I do it all because I care for him so, so much.
What are you worried about? What is giving you anxiety lately?
We are going to sing a final song. While we sing, I want you guys to simply come to God. I want you to write down all of the worries that you have on the note cards I’ve provided to each row. You don’t have to write your names on them. Whatever you’re facing right now, whatever is giving you anxiety, write it down, and ask God to take them from you, so that you don’t need to carry around that worry anymore.
Remember, God DELIGHTS in you and wants you to THROW your cares on HIM! Then, after you’ve talked to God and asked Him to take your cares away, I want you to come up to the cross and put your papers on it or on the floor near it.
Jesus came into the world so that we may have life to the full. Jesus died on the cross to take our sins away and to show just HOW MUCH He loves us. Why would you want to hold onto the weight of your worry, or the weight of your cares?
We have a loving God who wants to take it all off of our shoulders.
You can bring up your worries whenever you’re ready. It can be mid song, it can be well after service. But don’t hold on to them. So, whenever your ready, come cast your cares upon Jesus. Come to the cross, and give him control.