What are you most prone to worry about? Everyone has worried about something, but no one wants to. As we continue our series, “Summer on the Mount," David Marvin walks us through Matthew 6:24-34, teaching us about the results of worry, the reason we don’t have to worry, and the remedy for worry.
How to Never Hear, “Depart From Me I Never Knew You.”
Broad vs Narrow
The Golden Rule
Prayer Connected to Promise
Matthew 7:1-6 : Judging Others
Finding Freedom From Worry
Is Money Your Servant or Master?
The Lord’s Prayer
False Religion & Outward Righteousness
Radical Love of Real Disciples | A Guide to Matthew 5:33-48
What Jesus Says About Divorce in Matthew 5:31-32
The Murderer and Adulterer Within Me
Salt, Light, the Saved, the Savior and the Law
The Life that Flourishes | Matthew 5
A Summary of Matthew 5-7
What are you most prone to worry about? How often do you worry about it? Share this with your community group, and then memorize either Matthew 6:33-34 or Philippians 4:6-8 so that you can remind yourself of God’s truth when you are prone to worry.
What are you most prone to worry about? Everyone has worried about something, but no one wants to. As we continue our series, “Summer on the Mount," David Marvin walks us through Matthew 6:24-34, teaching us about the results of worry, the reason we don’t have to worry, and the remedy for worry.
Suggested Scripture study: Matthew 6:24-34; Matthew 6:9-10; Mark 14:35-36; Philippians 4:6-8
Sermon: The United States of Anxiety
Sermon: Anxiety: A Perspective Problem
Sermon: Don't Worry... This Message Is for You
My name is David. I serve and work with our young adult ministry called The Porch, and they're here to represent. Let me read the passage as we continue this series Summer on the Mount as we look at Jesus' first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. Let me dive in and read the passage, pray really quickly, and then we'll go. Jesus says this in Matthew, chapter 6, starting in verse 24:
"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 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? 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?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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?
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans [people who do not know God] run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Father, would you speak to us now? Thank you for the teachings of our Savior on the topic of worry and the truth that we can experience freedom and a life that is increasingly free from worry. Would you help us to take ground in that even now? We love you, amen.
We are talking about worry, if that's not clear enough already. I'm going to start with a story that captured a moment of my own experience with worry not too long ago. It was related to a trip that myself and a friend of mine who used to be on staff, JP… We were going to London. We had been invited to be a part of this conference, 75 young adult pastors from all over the world. It was a chance to go to London, hang out, be a part of a few days with them.
The weeks leading up to this conference… JP had been in a battle at that point. If you've been around, you know JP, our friend who moved and is now at Harris Creek. He had been in a season where he'd been wrestling with anxiety and sleep. (I asked for permission to share this story.) So he was concerned in the weeks before. He's like, "It's an eight-hour time change. I'm worried I'm not going to be able to sleep. Just pray for me, and just know that. That's my biggest concern."
So I go into total, full-blown wingman. "Hey, dude, I've got you. If you don't sleep, I don't sleep. We're hanging out. We'll go see the town, 2:00 a.m. I'm here for you, buddy. Don't let yourself be concerned about that. I'm all in. We'll do it together. We'll go see what London has. I know they have a bridge. I'm sure they have some other things. We'll just go see the city."
The day came. We get on the plane, get over there. We get to our Holiday Inn, which is where we're staying. Sidenote: I'd never been to London before. We get to our room, and I didn't realize the Holiday Inn in London is not like the Holiday Inn in San Antonio in that the room was like 10 feet by 10 feet. It was like, "Where is the rest of it?" or "Where is yours?" Truly. It was like, "Oh, man."
We're getting ready for bed. There we are, single bed, and it's like, "All right. Good night, buddy. Fist bump." They were, like, that close. So, the night comes, and we're there, and he goes right to sleep. It was great. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, anxiety comes into the room, and it didn't come for him; waves of it came over me. I began to play this tape… My wife was eight months pregnant at that time.
I began to think through, "Oh my gosh! Eight months. She could go into labor. What am I doing here? What type of dad am I? How fast can you get home from London to Dallas?" Not very fast. I began to just think through, "What if she goes into labor?" I see her. She's driving in the car. There's water breaking. She has our other son there. She's trying to drive. "What sort of husband am I? What am I doing here?" Waves of anxiety begin to plague over me.
Man, poor guy. He finally gets to sleep, and the guy in the room with him who's supposed to be his wingman is now full of anxiety and is like, "Hey! Psst! Hey! JP, are you asleep?" He was. You know when you're that person and you just increasingly do it until you wake them up? You're like, "Hey, hey. You asleep? Hey! You asleep?!" He's like, "I was." I'm like, "Hey, you know all those sleep remedies you've been having for anxiety? You don't have any of those by chance, do you? Just asking for a friend."
He's like, "Dude, I've got you." Luckily, he was a great guy to be traveling with, because he busts out like a tackle box worth of things to sleep. So we're going through all of these different remedies. "Hey, man. Try this tea." We're just sitting there, drinking tea. It's some sort of soothing tea. There are like essential oils you're rubbing on things. I don't know how that has anything to do with sleep, but that didn't work.
He's like, "All right. If that doesn't work, let me bust out the big gun." He gets out this tape recording of these relaxation techniques. He's like, "Just go along with this. Play." The guy begins to walk you through, like, "Relax," and different parts. The tape is like, "Start with the pinky toe. Relax the pinky toe. The pinky toe is in a deep sleep." It began to go through this. Dude, it worked. Four toes in, I was out. That's really all I'm here to share. Let me close in prayer.
I remember the next day waking up, and I still had worry as I was thinking about that night. Just, "Oh man. It's going to come again, and I'm worried I'm not going to be able to sleep." Throughout that trip I experienced worry, and it impacted my ability to sleep, impacted my day, impacted my time.
Worry is one of those things that can have this power over us, where it doesn't just impact our ability to sleep at times. Worry can impact our decision-making. Worry is one of the reasons a lot of people turn to substances, because their anxiety or their worry… "Man, I need a beer." There's a rise in cannabis use, because it's like, "I need something to take the edge off." Worry can have such a power over our lives.
Worry is the reason some people marry someone who doesn't align with God's Word, because they're like, "They're not God's best, but it may be the best I can do. I'm afraid if I don't marry them, this may be my last chance." They make a decision that has consequences for the rest of their life, but it's out of worry. Think about that.
Worry is the reason some people become workaholics, because they're concerned or worried, "Man, if I don't take advantage of this opportunity, if I don't work enough hours, maybe I'm not going to be able to provide." Worry can have all kinds of consequences in our lives. The interesting thing about worry is nobody wants to worry. No one is like, "God, you can have everything in my life. I surrender all of it, just not the worry. I want to keep this for myself. I really enjoy this."
All of us come in today, and we're like, "If there's a way to be free from anxiety, if there's a way to not worry, I would like to experience that." If there was a button and I said, "Everyone who hits this button, no more worry," I think we'd all be like, "Man, I want to hit the button." The good news is worry is not a new thing. It has been going on for thousands of years. When Jesus was around, the people he spoke to worried and experienced worry.
The further good news is that God who's there, who loves you, doesn't want you to experience a life that's filled with anxiety and worry, and he has given clear instructions on how you can experience a life free from that. So, today, we're going to talk about the answer Jesus gives to anxiety or how to win the battle of worry and break down the text I just walked through and look specifically at what Jesus says.
We're going to trace essentially what he covers, what he goes through. "Let's talk about the results of worry. Here's the reason if you're a Christian you don't have to worry." Then he gives such a helpful remedy to worry. Many of you, if you grew up in church, have heard these verses so many times. My biggest fear for you is that you've lost the incredible truth he gives us in them, because you may have heard something or you just heard that doesn't work.
I am convinced and I believe and I know and it's true that inside of these teachings from God's Word there is a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous truth that if you apply it will change your life and set you free from worry. You'll begin to experience being increasingly set free from worry. So, let me pick it up in verse 24 where I read already, and we'll just go through a little bit slower.
Jesus, interestingly enough, begins the conversation about worry by connecting it to money. Some things never change. Even in his audience's day, people around the topic of money would create anxiety or worry. Let's read it again. "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other." What are you talking about, Jesus? "You cannot serve both God and money."
Conclusion: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear." He just covers what his audience would have worried about…what you're going to eat, what you're going to wear. In that day, there wasn't refrigeration, so what you were going to eat… You got up wondering, "Is there going to be food again today?" And what you were going to wear. Most people didn't have clothes. Very expensive. You had two outfits, usually, at most.
So he's covering what his audience worried about. To you, he would say whatever you worry about. "Don't worry about where your kids are going to go to college. Don't worry about your retirement. Don't worry about your health. Don't worry about where you're living. Don't worry about whether or not you're in the right neighborhood. Don't worry about whether your job is the right one for you or you're going to get the promotion."
He would say whatever you're worried about. "Don't worry about whether or not you're going to get married. Don't worry about whether or not you're going to have kids." He's not saying, "Don't care or try or be responsible," but he's saying, "You don't have to worry about it." Then he asks two profound questions I really want to spend the majority of our time in this first point on.
"Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" Isn't life more than getting married? Isn't life more than having a retirement? Isn't life more than just being healthy? It spends all of your focus and all of your attention. That's what you do when you're worried. It consumes you, and you're spending your life on something that, at the end of the day, life is so much bigger than those things.
To his audience he would say as it relates to food and clothes, but to you, whatever you're worried about. He would say, "Why do you spend so much of your life focused on something that's such a small portion of life?" Then the second question: "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
The first idea I want to camp out on is the results of worry. Jesus says the results of worry anytime they're present are worthless. They don't add any benefit. Worry never helps you, and it always costs you. I know that's not the most profound thing. If you're sitting there, you're like, "Yeah, I know. Duh. That's why I want to hear about what Jesus has to say."
Jesus is just getting his audience's head. "Hey, can we all agree? Let's all get on the same page. Worry is never a productive use of time. If you're sitting there worried, it's not a productive use of your time. Can we all agree? No one adds to their life by doing it." He's just getting his audience… "Hey, let's all get on board here and make sure we're all in agreement."
The genius behind his question of "Isn't life more than that?" is it's his attempt to pull his audience back from the things they were getting so focused on. We get so nearsighted. I can't think about anything else other than this, the thing I'm worried about. He's trying to pull them back and deflate some of the power of the worry they're feeling by helping them see the lie they're believing or the irrational logic that food is life.
On the surface, they'd know, "Of course life is more than that." In other words, if I had all the food and I knew for the rest of my life I'm never going to go hungry, would that be the epitome of life? His audience would say, "No. Of course not." It's spending so much of my time and energy, and I'm focused on it.
To you he would say, "You spend so much of your time worried about whether or not you're going to get married or going to be able to have kids. Is that what life is? Like, life equals spouse?" The only people who would believe that are people not married. You're like, "No. Of course not. Of course. It's so much more than that. It takes all my time, all my attention."
I'm so concerned about my kids getting into the right school. Does life equal kids getting in the right school? No. Why would you spend so much of your life…? He's just pulling it back, trying to deflate the power of their worry to see through, because anxiety and worry create this fog, where unless you're intentional to apply God's Word or to seek the truth in it, you don't see the lies or the illogical thinking that can be behind it.
What do I mean by that? Today, counselors, if you ever go see a counselor or if you have seen one, oftentimes do something very similar as it relates to anxiety. My wife is a counselor. I'm about to give you $150 an hour free right now, people. This is for you. So, you go see a counselor. You're wrestling with anxiety. They'll do something that… Jesus was just ahead of the curve. It's 2,000 years old.
They will do something similar, trying to pull you back and deflate some of the power of worry and see what's behind that. What do I mean? Just asking questions. Let me use an example. I go in and I'm like, "Man, I'm just worried. I can't sleep. I'm worried I won't be able to fall asleep tonight."
"Well, what if you can't fall asleep tonight?"
"I guess I'm going to be really tired tomorrow."
"What if you're really tired tomorrow?"
"I guess I'm going to be really tired tomorrow."
"Can you make it one day being really tired?"
"I guess I can make it one day."
Or maybe use a more relevant example even personally in my own life. Maybe you go and you're worried, "Am I going to be able to pay for kids' college?" You're just worried about this. "Am I going to be able to afford sending my kids or paying for their college today?" You sit down. The counselor would just do similar to what Jesus did. "What if you can't afford to pay for your kids' college someday?"
"I guess they'd have to take out a loan or get a scholarship, and they're not very athletic, so that's not going to happen. Maybe they won't even go to college. I don't know what…"
"What if they have to take out a loan or get a scholarship or what if they don't go to college?"
"Well, then I would feel like I was a bad dad. I didn't provide in the way I should have for my kids. I just wasn't able to do that, and I didn't provide like a dad should. I wasn't a good dad."
"Is that what a good dad does? Pays for college? Have you ever known a good dad or is it possible that there could be a good dad who doesn't pay for college? Is it possible that you could have a bad dad who did pay for college? On the top 10 list of things that make a good dad, where would paying for college be? Would it even be on that list?"
I think we'd go, "Huh. I guess that's not what a good dad does or it's not really the main identity." But in the midst of the fog when you get paralyzed with that worry, you can almost believe that lie. Here's the craziness about the fact that worry never helps; it always costs. In that moment, for me, worrying about the future and being a good dad in the future robs me of the only guaranteed opportunity I have to be a good dad, which is today. Worry never is productive. It always costs us. It never helps you.
Maybe you're not worried about college. Maybe you're like, "Dude, I'm worried about rent this week. I'm worried about putting shoes on my kids' feet. I'm worried about whether or not the cancer treatment is going to work." Jesus would still say, "You do not have to worry about it." There's a God who's there who loves you, who cares about you, and has invited you to a life where you can trust him. He's going to go next to the reason you do not have to worry. Verse 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 [to God] than [a bird]? […] And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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?"
Jesus draws a relationship between the size of your faith and the size of your worry. "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans [people who do not have a heavenly Father] run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." Jesus says you and I can experience life that is free from worry because we have a heavenly Father who has promised, "I've got you. I will meet your needs. I am committed not to meeting all of your wants, but I will care and provide for your needs."
The reason why if you're a Christian in the room you do not have to worry is because God has promised, "I will meet all of your needs. I have promised and I'm committed to meeting your needs ultimately on the cross for all of eternity." You have a heavenly Father who has promised to meet all of your needs, and Jesus says you don't have to worry.
He's not saying, "Don't try." He's not saying, "Don't be responsible." Work hard. Be responsible. Fill out applications. Do all of the different things that are the right things to do, but at the end of the day, he's saying you don't have to worry about it because you have a heavenly Father who has promised, "I've got you. I will meet your needs."
Four times in this passage he says the same thing. "Do not worry. Do not worry. Do not worry. Do not worry." It's hard to miss the underlying hammering home theme Jesus wants us to take away. The Bible, interestingly enough, hammers home in a very similar way a theme of its own that is so relevant to this. Do you know what the most repeated command in all of the Bible is? "Do not be afraid. Fear not. Do not fear."
It says it 366 times. That is one for every day of the year, including leap year, as though God wants to make it abundantly clear, "I do not want my people to live in fear. I don't want you to be afraid." More than it talks about, "Don't drink or chew or date girls who do" or any of that stuff, it says, "You do not have to be afraid. I don't want you to fear. Fear not. Fear not. Fear not." It hammers home the idea that God wants his people to know, "I'm a loving heavenly Father. I've got you."
Even implicit in saying, "Don't worry" he's telling us, "I've got you covered." He couldn't be a good God if he was saying, "Don't worry, but I don't have you." Think about it. If I was hanging out with you after we finish the service, and we were like, "Hey, let's go to lunch. We're all going to Mattito's. Come on. It's great. You can ride with me. I'll drive," and as we're heading there, you begin to go, "Oh, man. I forgot my wallet," and I say, "Don't worry about it."
We get to Mattito's. We're eating the food, hanging out. The waiter brings the check. They go, "One check or two checks?" and I say, "Two checks." You would look at me like, "What do you mean two checks? You said don't worry about it. I told you I didn't have my wallet. You said don't worry about it." If I responded with, "Oh, you thought I was going to pay for you? No. I just didn't want you to worry. Worry is never fun. I was just trying to encourage you," you would say, "You're a bad friend and a little crazy," and you would be right.
Could the God of the universe tell you, "Do not worry about it" and be a good heavenly Father unless he's also saying, "I've got you; I will meet everything you need"? You have a heavenly Father who loves you and has committed "I will care for you." I love the parallel he draws of being a father and how much you love. I'll share it like this. There's a new phenomenon among the tribe I run with, which is young adults, called dog moms.
A dog mom is just what you think. They don't see themselves as a pet owner; they see themselves as a dog mother or a dog dad. There is one girl in particular who is on my staff team who is the most extreme example of this. I don't want to name names, but hers is Emily. She's the most intense dog mom I've ever met. She really does think of her dogs as children. This is a quote: "Every time I go to Target, it's like, ooh, opportunity to buy a new toy for my little baby."
She has picked out Halloween costumes already for them. She has that covered. She's throwing the sweaters on there. She gives her dogs middle names. We all have friends who are like, "Hey, my name is Mary Claire," and you're like, "Mary," and she goes, "It's Mary Claire." She does that with her dogs, where it's like, "This is Cooper James." "Cooper." "It's Cooper James." You're like, "We should talk about this. Community should be involved here." The lengths to which she goes to provide for her dogs are just crazy.
Do you think she loves her dogs more than God loves you? Do you think she cares about her dogs, thinks about her dogs more than God loves you? When you ask it like that, we'd all say, "Of course not. That would be silly," but functionally, a lot of us live that way. A lot of us believe that. There's no person who loves their dog more than God loves you. There's no parent who loves their child, the Bible says, more than God loves you.
Honestly, there are a lot of things that are hard to believe. That's one of the hardest for me, because if you're a parent in the room, you know there's this illogical love. You just love your kids so much. The lengths you'll go to to provide for them, to care for them… You'd do anything because you so love your children. There's a protectiveness even as a father that comes out that is at times irrational.
My wife came home recently. She had taken our son. He was doing swim lessons. She brought him home. I was like, "How did it go?" She's like, "It wasn't great. Some of the other kids are getting it, and he's not doing great at it. He didn't like it, and he didn't have a great attitude the whole time. He doesn't like to swim, and he wasn't really able to do it like some of the other kids."
I snap into a protective mode that doesn't even make sense, where I begin to go, "Huh. Who do swim lessons think they are? Really? Why are we even swimming anymore? We don't live in the ocean. He doesn't need to swim." It's like, "What is wrong with you?" You love your kids so much.
The God who's there loves you more than any parent has ever loved their child, and he has promised, "I will provide for you." He ultimately displayed that on the cross by dying in your place, by sending his own Son. "There's no length I will not go to to care and provide for the needs of my children whom I love, even if it requires the death of my own Son." That's what it means to be a Christian.
A Christian is someone who says, "I have trusted that Jesus came and died the death I deserved. He died on the cross, and in doing so he paid for all of my sin, everything in the past, present, and future. He died, it was paid for, and he rose from the grave, showing the payment cleared. It was more than enough." That's what a Christian believes. The God who's there says, "There's no length I won't go to. I love you, and I care about you. You can trust me."
There was an old Puritan named John Owen who had a quote I thought was so good. He essentially said, "It is irrational for a Christian to worry, because in doing so, a Christian would be saying, 'God, I trust you with all of my eternity, just not with Thursday.'" That's so strong. It is irrational to say, "God, I trust you with everything. I surrender all. You've got it. Sun, moon, stars…you hold everything together by the word of your power, but you can't handle my presentation Tuesday."
It's irrational, because as Christians, we know there's a heavenly Father who has promised, "I've got you. I will provide for your needs, and you can trust me, because I love you, and I've fully displayed that once and for all on the cross in dying in your place. You can trust me with today and with tomorrow and with everything you have."
It has been well said before that, as Christians, we do not know what tomorrow holds, but we're the only ones who know who holds tomorrow. As Christians, we don't know what tomorrow holds, but we're the only people on the planet who know the one who holds tomorrow, and he's a heavenly Father who loves you, cares about you, is committed, and promised, "I will meet your needs and have ultimately met your greatest need by dying in your place."
Finally, Jesus doesn't just cover the reason, but he gives a remedy that was so helpful and practical and really transformative in my own life, so let me read that next. "But seek first…" The word seek is the same word prioritize or embrace as first in your life. "… [God's] kingdom…" That's God's reign, God's will, God's agenda, God's rule. ** "…and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."**
He gives us the remedy for worry, which is simply replacing your agenda with God's. You will release your worries when you begin to replace your agenda with God's. Stay with me, because I think a lot of us have read this verse before, and here's what you've heard: Jesus saying, "Hey, don't worry. Seek first his kingdom. Don't worry; just go on a mission trip. Don't worry; just read your Bible more."
All of those things are great things, but if that's what your takeaway is, you miss the power of what Jesus just said. He said, "I want you to embrace as first place in your life God's agenda, God's kingdom, God's will, God's wants and desires for your life. Put those in the first place or on the throne of your life. Let there be no competition." God's agenda, my agenda. I'm going to embrace his as very first, and in doing so, I'll begin to experience peace.
How do I know God's agenda? How do I know God's will? How do I know God's kingdom or desires for my life? Well, the two ways we know God's will are his revealed will in the Bible… It says, "This is how you should live." That's the revealed will, and then his sovereign will as it unfolds in our lives. When circumstances go in a direction, God is sovereign over all of those things, and it is his will unfolding in front of us.
The Bible says when it comes to the idea of worry, if you will learn to embrace God's revealed will and his sovereign will as it unfolds, even when it contradicts your own agenda and your own kingdom, if you will, you'll begin to experience peace. Here's the truth. Here's why this is so huge. What do you worry about? I know what I worry about, and I'm pretty sure I know what you worry about. Things you want, your agenda, your kingdom.
We never would put it that way, but essentially, all of us worry about the things… When I experience the emotion of worry, it's generally related to David's kingdom, David's agenda, David's desires, David's wants. In other words, I sadly have never laid awake in bed unable to sleep going like, "God, I'm just worried about all of the people in Mongolia who are not Christians. I don't know if you've got it up there, and I'm just concerned." It just doesn't happen.
I worry about my kids' health. I worry about finances. I worry about all kinds of different things. Personally, all of them have at the epicenter me…my agenda, my desire. I don't worry, honestly, about God getting it wrong by his standard; I worry he is not going to get it right by my standard. Jesus said, "If you will begin to place and embrace as first in your life God's will, God's agenda, and trust him, even when it contradicts and goes in a direction you don't want to or contradicts your agenda for your life, you will begin to experience peace."
If you begin to be someone who says, "God, you know how badly I want to be married right now" or "You know how desperately we need this job or this opportunity, but if that's not your will, I trust you," you'll begin to experience peace, Jesus says. The crazy thing about all of my worries being that I'm not going to get everything I want is I'm not going to get everything I want, and neither are you.
Think about it. We worry about things not going exactly how we want them to go. They're not going to go exactly how you want them to go for the rest of your life, and neither will mine. News flash: things don't always go and they won't always go every way you want them to go all the time. If that is news breaking to you, you are a toddler looking for our children's ministry, which is that way.
Eventually in life you go, "Oh, man. Things just don't always go… I'm not always going to get everything I want. My agenda, the plans I have are not going to go, but God's plans will." When that happens and they're not going my way, I can either choose to trust him and have peace or choose worry.
In other words, you can have not everything you want in life (guaranteed, you're going to have that) and peace or not everything you want in life and worry. Everything you want in life is not an option, but peace is. The God who's there says, "I love you. I am for you. Embrace my agenda for your life and trust me, and you'll have peace."
He calls us back to something he mentioned 20 verses earlier. Do you know this? Twenty verses earlier, Jesus uses very similar language when he says, "This is how you should pray. This is the posture of your life as it comes to prayer. This is perspective you should have in life." He says this in Matthew, chapter 6, in the same chapter. Jesus has just one thought. Same sermon.
Twenty verses earlier in the sermon he said, "This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, [holy or set apart] be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth…'" That's in my life, in my world, on the dirt I walk on, on my earth. "Your will and your kingdom before my own kingdom. Your will come, God."
He further gives us not just an instruction on how to pray this, but he gives us an illustration in that Jesus actually lived out this idea of saying, "I'm going to replace my agenda, my will. God, yours comes before my own, and I'm going to trust you." He puts it into practice. He even puts it into practice the way he said to pray.
It's the only time we're told that Jesus, looking at the future, felt overwhelmed. I don't know if you've ever felt overwhelmed looking at the future, but you need to know your Savior was on this planet, and when he was on this planet, there was a moment he felt overwhelmed as he looked at future events, particularly around the cross and dying, being separated from God.
In that moment, we're told he prayed, and what he prayed really lives out and illustrates this idea of saying, "God, I trust your agenda before my own even when it contradicts my own." He said this in Mark, chapter 14, verse 35, hours before he's going to be crucified: "Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 'Abba, Father,' he said…" Jesus praying. "…everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
"God, I don't want to go through with this and die on the cross and be separated from you, but if that's your will, I trust you." Practically, what this looks like as you walk through scenarios where you're feeling temptation to be worried or maybe be overwhelmed with anxiety… Maybe it's financial. You find yourself in a place where you're going, "God, you know how desperately I need this job. We've been laid off. We've been dipping into our savings fund. I don't know how much longer we can make it, but if getting this job is not your will, we trust you."
Maybe you've been walking through a season of infertility. For you, that looks like going to God and saying, "God, you know how desperately we want to have kids. We've tried everything we can. It has been years. We're going to birthday parties for people who started trying after we did. We're trying to do everything, God, and I can't understand why you wouldn't allow us to have children.
The doctors are telling us we don't have much more time. We're not really sure if it's going to work out. We're asking, God, will you allow us to have kids? But if that's not your will, I trust you. Will you help me trust you more, because I don't even want to say that, God? Your kingdom and your will come before my own."
Maybe you are single, and you're looking at the clock and going, "God, if something doesn't change soon, I feel like my options are only getting less and less, and this may not be the story you're writing or marriage may not be in the picture for me. If that's the case, I trust you. I don't want it to be the case, but if it is, I'm not going to thwart your will. I trust you." What other option do we have? Worry, I guess, which never helps. It always hurts.
Your heavenly Father is there saying, "I love you. I'm for you. I'm working everything for your good. There's a plan and purpose behind everything, even the pain. Someday you're going to see even the ways your agenda, your kingdom didn't work out, mine was always working out. You can trust me. I love you. I am for you."
I think we struggle over this because we think, "I can't give God control like that, just hand them over, like, 'God, I trust you, even if it doesn't go the way I want'? I'm just giving him control?" That's crazy. He's the only one in control. You don't have control. You never have had control. Even the way we talk about control is a funny thing. We say it in phrases as though we have had it.
People say things like, "I struggle with control." Think about that statement for a second. No, you don't. You're saying you struggle over something you've never had, you never will, and you don't have currently. That's like me saying, "I struggle with x-ray vision." It's like, "No, you don't. You are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, buddy."
You don't have control, but the God who's there does, and he says, "I love you. I'm for you. I'm working things for your good. You can trust me. Your only other option is not a good one. You can worry. You can bring those things to me. Even when your agenda is not folding out the way you wished it was, mine is. Trust me. I love you, and I am a good Father."
The apostle Paul in Philippians, chapter 4… We pick up on this idea of in the moments of anxiety, bring those things to God and trust him, and you'll experience peace. In Philippians 4:6-7, I want to read what he says, and I just want you to look at what he commands or what he calls us to do. Three times he says the same thing. "Do not be anxious [or worry] about anything, but in every situation [in everything you face] , by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
That's the same thing. He says three times the same exact thing: prayer, petition, present your requests to God. Pray, petition, which means to ask, and present your requests. "What are you trying to say?" Paul is hammering home, "Bring it to God. Bring it to God. Bring it to God. When you worry, bring it to God. When you worry, bring it to God. Bring it to God. Bring it to God." Three times in the same passage, in the same verse. "Bring it to God. Bring it to God."
It's so huge, because think about ways we often get anxious and we don't think, "God, I'm just going to pray. I'm giving this to you. I'm bringing this to you. I'm bringing this to you." Paul says, "When you are anxious, bring it to God. Bring it to God. Bring it to God." When you know God, something will happen. "And the peace of God, which [surpasses] all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
When you begin to know God, that he's for you, he loves you, and he's working in control, and you have the type of life that says, "Every time I'm anxious I bring it to God. Every time I'm anxious I bring it to my Father who loves me, who is in control. Every time I'm anxious I'm going to God, I'm going to God," Paul says something happens, and you get peace in the place of anxiety. The God who's there has invited you to call him Father. He has promised to meet your needs and given you a solution to the worry that's worthless and never helps.
This truth became so much more real to me about a year and a half ago. My wife and I in October of 2017 found out we were pregnant. We were adding another child to our family. We were so excited. If you've had that moment, it's just a really exciting moment. Two and a half months later, on December 8, 2017, Wednesday night, at 9:30 at night, we get a phone call from our doctor, and I knew something was off. Doctors don't generally call Wednesday at 9:30 just to catch up.
She began to say, "We got blood work and tests done, and everything that came back… We found out you're having a girl. The reason we know that is because she has been flagged for a chromosomal disorder, that if she has it, there's a 99 percent chance she's going to die before she gets to the end of the third trimester. If she is in the 1 percent that makes it out of the womb, she's going to have immediate need for heart surgery or heart transplant. She's going to have severe complications for the rest of her life. Physical abnormalities will be a part of her. She'll never be able to have kids and really not live a normal life."
It was like a bomb went off. You know when you watch movies and a bomb goes off and all you hear is ringing and silence? That put us on a journey for the next nine months where every day was just, "God, we don't want our baby girl to die. God, we don't want our baby girl to die. God, will you please allow our baby girl to live? Would she be healthy? I can't understand how that even could be a part of your plan, God. We're asking you to allow her to live, to allow her to be healthy, God. Please. If that's not your will, we trust you. We're trying to trust you. Will you help us trust you, God?"
We cried our tears and prayed our prayers, and our community was a part of it and walked alongside of us. I wish I could stand up here and say every moment during that time was one of those where I just said, "God, if that's your will, I trust you, if that's what you're going to do," but I can't. I don't even know I could say most moments were, but I can say every moment we experienced peace was.
I don't know what you're walking through, and it may make that pale in comparison, but I know there's a God who has invited you, saying, "Will you bring what you're carrying…? It's too heavy for you to carry. I love you. I'm for you. Bring those things to me and trust me." Nine months later, my wife gave birth to our daughter Monroe, and she was healthy. It was a false positive. During that time, God grew our faith and our trust in him.
I hesitate even to share that part, because I don't want it to sound like, "Hey, just trust God and the baby is always fine," because that's not the case. But I do know God has said, "You can trust me. I love you. I'm for you. I am in control. One day you're going to see it, even the things that don't make sense or align with your agenda. I am working and redeeming, and you can trust me. You don't have to walk through and be anxious. Bring those to me."
I'm going to close in prayer, and as I do, I just want to pray for a handful of you in the room who are in a situation like… Maybe it's far beyond anything I just shared. Maybe there's uncertainty whether the chemo is going to work out, where you're going to live, what you're going to do, and a thousand other things represented in a room this large. I just want to pray for you.
If you are in that situation, I want you to know you don't have to walk through that alone. God has given the gift of community and people around to come alongside and be an encouragement, to walk with you. He has commanded it so you don't have to bear those burdens alone, and he has commanded you to bring those to him, knowing that he loves you and you can trust him. When you do, you will have peace, or I guess you could just worry. Let me pray.
Father, I want to pray specifically for friends who are walking through the valley of the shadow of anxiety. They're in a place where it's hard to see what you're doing and why you would work in the way you are. Maybe it's cancer, it's infertility, it's singleness, a million other things I don't know, but I do know you know.
I pray that you right now would win in their hearts; you would be bigger to them than the anxiousness, bigger than whatever we're worried about; you would be bigger in our lives, in our minds, in our hearts; you would be more real, God, than the pain, than the confusion; you would raise their awareness right now, where they're sitting, of you and your nearness to them. I don't even fully know how to ask for that, but I ask that you would raise their awareness of you and your nearness and your love and your goodness and you would win the battle of worry in our hearts and our minds and in our lives and we would experience peace.
I pray that anyone who's walking alone in anxious times would open up with their Community Group, they would share with their Community Group, and they would bring their request to the God who loves them, who cares about them, who's strong enough to carry the weights we hold. We worship you now in song, amen.