So we have been rolling along through our big summer series studying one of the most profound and popular sermons ever preached…Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I have to tell you this series has been such a big deal to me in my own personal life. I have been amazed at how as we study God’s word just how much it applies directly into my everyday life. Whether it’s how I respond to people, or as I walk through tough times in my life, or how I lead in my home or community, God’s word is so helpful as it guides us through each day. Really this has been my prayer for this series, that as we look at Jesus’ foundational words to live by, they would literally become foundation words that we would actually live by, which is what it’s all about! Today we are going to close out Matthew 6, and as I told you a couple of weeks ago, this Chapter really gives us some very tangible words to live by. If you remember it started with the idea of not faking it when it comes to our spiritual lives. Then the chapter ends with three very specific subject. The first was Jesus’ literally teaching us how to pray. Remember this is where I really got to jump into profound biblical wisdom, where I told you that when Jesus Christ says things like, “This, then is how you should pray.” We should pay close attention and do that! One of the things that I really wanted you to see was just how important prayer is, and how as we spend time with God there is an important shift in our lives…frankly that shift will allow us to live a very different kind of life. Remember the shift that happens as we spend time with God?
Matthew 6:6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. MSG
It’s this particular shift that changes the way a true disciple of Jesus lives their lives. It’s this particular shift that changes our values and priorities, and helps us with what truly matters compared to what doesn’t. I believe it’s this shift from self-focus to God-focus that is central in true life change. If we stay the central focus of our lives we won’t respond to life the way a disciple of Jesus can and should as described by Jesus in Scripture. I think it’s this particular shift that can actually help us with what Ken was here talking to you all about last week and what we will get into today. Last week Ken hit the second subject that Jesus clearly teaches about in Matthew 6, we learn to pray and then Jesus goes after what I like to call “the thing.” He was talking about the thing that no one is supposed to talk about ever in church right? He was talking about money…I know, I know is very dangerous to talk about in church right? But here’s the deal, what I’m doing with my pocket book is a big deal, but probably not for the reasons you are thinking a church would bring up money, it is something that Jesus talked about a lot, and it is something we will absolutely talk to you about as well because material things and money can become an idol in your life so fast. Remember what Jesus said from last week’s talk?
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. NIV
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” NIV
Ken always does an amazing job talking about this subject. Money and finances and material things are not evil. They aren’t a bad thing. You can have money. You can have nice things. The key is that they don’t distract you from a life centered on God. These things can so easily become idols in our lives which is why the shift we saw in Matthew 6:6 is so important. When the focus shifts from me to God I can look at my stuff as just stuff, and not more than it should be. Think about that…if the focus is on me and not God my stuff and my money is…MINE! Without the shift in focus to God, I don’t see it as temporary things of this Earth with all of eternity ahead of me…I see it as my treasure today that I need now. It’s the shift in focus from me to God that opens my heart up, my eyes up, and my understanding up to the fact that all of it is God’s, and all of eternity is a much longer time than today and what I have right now! Do you see the importance of the shift? The focus must shift off of us and onto God…when it does we live different lives. This will be very important as we get into the last of those three subjects today.
Before we jump into today’s study, I want to get a question stirring around in your heart that I want to really be the thing we keep coming back to today. Because as we start to talk about today’s subject I think we may start to realize the thing we are talking about can really be holding us back from experiencing all that life and life to the full can offer, and can really be keeping us from experiencing life as God designed it for us. So here’s the question of the day.
What are you missing out on?
Today we are going to finish Matthew 6 talking about something that I think we all deal with on some level…and that is fear, doubt, and worry about tomorrow. This is the third big subject that Jesus hits here in Matthew 6 and again I want you thinking about the importance of the shift from us to God. I also want you thinking about your life, and the question I just asked you. What are you missing out on? With that said, here’s what Jesus has to say…
Matthew 6:25 “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 important than food, and the body more important 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 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies 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, O 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. NIV
This is such an important thing that Jesus is talking about here and as I read it I wonder how you are doing? Can you receive these words from Jesus? How do you respond to Jesus saying things like this?
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. NIV
Can you receive that? It’s interesting because even as I read this I think we can start to explain why we can’t do this…am I right? We start to think about the calendar, the kids schedules, the upcoming school year, everything that is broken in our homes, all the bills that need paid, what we are walking back into tomorrow at work and we can think. ‘Yeah Jesus could say that, he was single, he didn’t have a mortgage…and he certainly didn’t live in the stress and busyness and chaos of life that I do here in the year 2018!” Well if you were sitting there making excuses as to why Jesus is so disconnected from our reality that he didn’t have to worry about tomorrow let’s remember that Jesus has the entire weight of saving the world on His shoulders…and in his future is a terrible, humiliating, and extremely painful death so, maybe we should throttle back on those types of thoughts a bit! But let’s talk about this because I think we could all agree that it would be nice to live this way right? Not worrying about tomorrow. No fear of what tomorrow might bring, that would be amazing right? Well can I tell you something, it is possible to live this way, but it isn’t possible without the shift we talked about earlier. Listen, I know it’s easy to read this scripture and think of Jesus’ teaching on fear and anxiety about tomorrow and think does God even know what I’m walking into this year? But we don’t have to walk in the weight of any of this stuff anymore…because God actually does know, and because of Jesus and what He did for you on the cross…God is literally walking in this mess and stress of life with us.
Last week we were on our vacation, which was nice to get away with the family for a week but for me it’s those days coming back out of vacation that really can get to me. I know I’m a Pastor and nothing bad ever happens to me, but it seemed like the week heading into vacation everything that we owned that could break, or leak, or explode in our home did! The other thing I knew was coming out of this last week of July…this vacation kind of marked the end of summer for our family and the big kick off to the whirlwind of our fall with four kids in high school, middle school, and grade school, and all their different activities. So I could really feel a lot of that pushing in on me, and Monday I started really building the calendar for the fall and trying to layout rides and some sort of plan for everything we have going on this fall, and I could just feel the tightness in my chest as I tried to figure out how we are were getting the kids to all their stuff, plus Mashawn and I’s personal schedules…and I looked at all of that, and wondered how in the world we were going to get through it…also knowing that we will, and then thought again about Jesus’ words that we are studying this week that I was going to be teaching on this particular Sunday and almost had to laugh…it’s amazing just how relevant Scripture is to our lives. What an amazing gift and it just hit my heart so hard…
Matthew 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? NIV
We probably aren’t adding time to our lives by worrying, and frankly we are probably shaving hours off our lives by being so stressed out by all that life may or may not throw at us in the upcoming days. Add the distraction and emotional weight we walk in thinking and worrying about things that only God can control and we can have quite a mess on our hands can’t we? I think this particular part of Jesus’ sermon is so huge…because we can miss out on so much because of fear, doubt, and worry about tomorrow…I love the way this is worded in the Message version…
Matthew 6:34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. MSG
We can make such a mess of things struggling for control and holding on too tight to things that in the end we can’t control anyway, this is why the shift is so important because I don’t think you will ever get to a place where you can live free of fear of tomorrow and what it may bring to you if your focus is on you and not on God. When God is the primary focus of your life you know who is in control…if you don’t center on Him, well I think you can miss out on a lot, which brings me back to the big question of the day.
What are you missing out on? One of the things that really hit my heart as I started thinking through this particular part of the series is all the things we aren’t doing in life because our fears, and doubts, and worries that keep us from experiencing things that we should be experiencing.
You know, for me personally, I love being in the woods. I love hiking and trail running and I try to get out on the Appalachian Trail as much as possible. I love taking my family and even our minpin Toby on hikes and adventures in the woods, that is probably my favorite thing to do. When I was younger though my parents really pushed in on me to never, never go around the Whiskey Springs area of the Appalachian Trail because there was a lot of occult type things that would happen up there at night. Frankly it made me afraid of that area, and I avoided it thinking of how awful it must be…and eventually decades later I went up to that area of the trail with my family and do you know what I found. It was one of the most beautiful areas of the trail in our area. Amazing rocks to climb on for the kids, lots of happy hikers and rock climbers having fun…and it is one of the coolest places that I never experienced because of fear! Interesting isn’t it? It was funny on our vacation that we just had, my son Trey who I like to say is kind of an old man trapped in an 11 year old’s body, spent the week watching shark week on the discovery channel. Which may not be the best idea as you head to the Outer Banks for vacation, but that is what he did…watching shark attacks, and air jaws, and all that stuff…then guess what Trey didn’t want to do when we got to the beach? He didn’t want to get in the water. So him and I talked about this, and I brought up all that he would be missing out on if he let that fear get to him, and it made me think in my own life of all I have missed out on because of my worries about what might happen…like not seeing that portion of the Appalachian Trail that I spoke of earlier. Now lucky for Trey the beach was red flagged most of the week but towards the end of the week he overcame those fears and had a lot of fun in the water but it made me think a lot about what all we miss out on in life when it comes to fears, doubts, and worries in our lives. I watched Trey laughing and splashing around (shark free) in the water and thought about us as Christians and how much we can miss out on because we are worried about tomorrow and I knew this is what we needed to talk about today and I want you to personalize this question, think about it for yourself…
What are you missing out on because of fear, doubt, and worry? Maybe think this way. What would you be doing if you were not afraid? Just like I missed out on so much the trail had to offer because I was worried about that area, or what Trey could have missed when it comes to the fun of the ocean and playing in the waves…you can miss out on so much of life, so much spiritually because fear, and doubt and worry can hold you back from all that could be! What if there are great experiences for you out there that you aren’t experiencing because fear is holding you back. So what is it? What are you missing out on? This can be just for you personally. Maybe for you as a parent, or in your professional career, but what I want to focus on is you as a true disciple of Christ. Here’s what we know, we know that we have been called by God to be more as Christians than just people taking up space on this planet and crossing off days on the calendar until we can go party in heaven for all of eternity right? We know that we are to be the light of the world, the salt of the Earth. We have been called by God to help expand His kingdom which is so huge. We have a divine calling! We are created on purpose with a purpose for our lives. You have been created, and designed for more…think about that fact for a moment! So I want you thinking this way…what are you missing out on? Jesus told us that he came to this Earth for a very specific reason right?
John 10:10 “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” NIV
That life to the full thing is such a big deal! Can you imagine living this way? Life and life to the full. Is this what you are experiencing as a disciple of Christ? If you aren’t what is holding you back? More often than not I see it as two things that really keep us from experiencing this life to full thing that comes as we stand in who God created us to be. It’s fear and it’s life. These are the two things that keep us from experiencing our true calling as Christians. We are afraid of so many things whether that is sharing Jesus, or stepping out and taking risks for God’s greater kingdom work. We also deal with life which if we are honest is quite a beat down isn’t it? It can often feel like every time we try we fail, or get hurt and then we decide what? We come to the conclusion that “we are never going to do that again!” Right, this is what happens, pain, losses, dreams that don’t come true, goals that don’t quite get met and we never want to do that again right? Life and fear keep pushing in and we can end up standing on the beach, looking at the waves of life and if we aren’t careful we will never go out there and splash around and have fun! So in your heart today as we think this all through I want to ask you again…What are you missing out on?
If you ask yourself that question honestly and can see that you are not experiencing all that God has called you into or offers you in life, I want you to hear me say something very important here today…you haven’t failed. This isn’t over. The answer is not that it just is what it is. You can walk into your calling, and experience all God has called you into in this life, but it will always come back to the shift we keep talking about. Until the focus shifts off of you and onto God you will probably always be standing on the beach wondering what the water feels like. You must get to the place where the focus shifts off of you and onto God.
Think about it. All through scripture…When David picked up the stones to go fight Goliath was his courage in himself and his own strength…is that what motivated Him to fight a giant? Was his focus on himself? No, it was on God. His courage was his faith in God not in his own might over a giant. We can go story to story all through scripture to all of the heroes of our faith who did great things and I think we can often wonder how they had the courage to do the things they did. It is the shift in focus. There focus is on God and not themselves. It wasn’t that they were luckier than you, or more skilled than you…or that they had a different personality than you. It’s that they experienced the shift in focus.
So how are you doing with this? What are you missing out on because of fear, doubt, and worry? What is holding you back? I want you thinking this through. You have been called to more and it starts when we can push past the fears and worries and doubts that we all feel and move into that place where God called us to be. This is where life to the full is, and this only happens with the shift in focus from ourselves to God.
Listen this isn’t a personality thing. Yes some of us are more detailed than others and yes some of us struggle with control more than others but all of us are called to move past our fears (that all of us have) and move into all that God offers us as His disciples. As the focus shifts off of us and onto Him we start to live differently because we realize we have the God of the universe on our side which allows us to walk in this kind of faith…
Mark 11:22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” NIV
This is the God we serve, and this is the kind of faith we can walk in, as the focus shifts off of me and onto God I can live this type of life. If I have a God that can move mountains for me then I need to ask myself why I would be stuck, or not moving forward or not standing as the person that God created me to be, because this God of mine is on my side and will move all barriers for me! This is a very different way to live isn’t it?
So many of us are allowing mountains to get in our way, yet Jesus reminds us that if we believe God will move mountains on our behalf. Jesus knows that if we can learn how to pray we have almost everything we need which is amazing news and freeing news and hopefully moves us past the barriers that are holding us back in life.
So if I serve a God big enough to throw mountains into the sea, what am I so afraid of? Do you see it? So let me ask you this question again. What are you missing out on in life? God has a calling for you…but it’s going to take the shift in focus or you may always look at the mountain in front of you wonder what is on the other side, when all it would take is believing in God, and asking Him to move the barriers for you.
So let’s give tomorrow to God, and spend the time necessary with Him to experience the shift so that we don’t miss out on all that could be due to fear, doubt, and worry. It’s all in God’s hands anyway, and with a God big enough to toss mountains into the sea for us, I think that is the best place for tomorrow to be. It’s time for you and I to stand as the people He called us to be, and to experience all that life could be with Him central and first in it.