This is my sermon for this coming Sunday. Tell me what you think!

Date preached: 5/25/08, Sebewaing

RCL After Epiphany 8A

Text: Matthew 6:24-34

Subject: Why is God telling us not worry?

Complement: Because we have Him to trust in the lean times.

Exegetical Idea: If they serve God, He will provide for the Israelites – They need not worry.

Homiletic Idea: If we serve God, He will provide for us so we needn’t worry either.

Purpose: Hearers will ask God to be their Lord and provide their needs.

Type: Deductive, Expository

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

That poem, by Robert Frost, has always been a favorite of mine. The yellow wood reminds me of northern Michigan where I lived when I was young. And the constant decision of which way to go both on a walk and in my life has been beautifully detailed in this poem by Robert Frost. I always imagine myself gazing at the two roads deciding if I will take the less traveled, maybe even more difficult way or the easier way that most take. I have always likened them to the narrow and wide paths that we choose between in our life. I have chosen the narrow path to God rather than the wide path to wealth, power and destruction.

That is what our passage of scripture speaks of this week, too.

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God AND wealth.” Matthew 6:24 NIV

Here, Jesus breaks down our choices into two paths. There is the path serving God and the path serving wealth.

The path of serving God leads to life. This should be obvious since God created both the world and us. He wants only the best for us, His children. He wants us to live in Him. He loved us so much and wanted us to have life so much that He sacrificed His only Son for us! You might say that Jesus received death from God, but it was a temporary death and and God gave Jesus life again. Jesus livse and God wants us to live eternally with Him, too.

If we think about the path of serving wealth, we know it leads to death. Nothing but God can give us eternal life. Besides that, wealth makes us greedy. If we get something we want, there is always something else we want. At some point in our lives, we have probably all said, “If I had such and such, then I would be happy.” Once we got the such and such, we realized that we needed something else or we realized that we were still not happy.

So which god will you serve? Will you serve the true God that gives life or the false god of wealth that gives death?

There are many reasons why we should serve God. Most of us here have heard them all many, many times. Let’s look at this passage and see what Jesus is telling us about serving God here.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

“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? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies 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, O 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 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.

Here Jesus is telling us how when we serve God, we can trust that He will take care of our needs. This is not only a very good reason for serving Him, especially in economically depressed times like now, but also a benefit to serving Him. Jesus was actually speaking to the Israelites in this passage. This passage comes from the Sermon on the Mount. He doesn’t really even focus on there being two paths. The Israelites all claimed they followed God. Jesus is telling them, if you are really following God, how can you keep worrying? God will provide, He has provided. That is the case with us as well. He provides for our needs if we follow Him and put our trust in Him.

Two weeks ago, Pastor Chris told you about God’s miraculous provision while we were at District Council. Do you think God would have provided for us if we had tried to take care of it ourselves? I tell that He wouldn’t have. We could have gotten so worried that we borrowed money from someone. Then we wouldn’t have had any worries at that moment, but later, we would have had to pay that back. We would have been worried then, I can tell you. But instead, we relied on Him to fill our needs and He did. We don’t have to pay God back. I’m not saying that borrowing money is bad. God can work that way as well, but we must listen to Him and follow Him. He told Chris and I we shouldn’t worry, so we did our best not to.

I will admit that I have always been a worrier. I came by it honestly and have struggled my whole life to let the worry go. My parents used to let me stay home from school because I had made myself sick from worry. We would be gone for an evening at something for the church. I remember going to Harvest Festival and getting back late. I wouldn’t have time for my homework and I would be nauseous because I was worried I’d get a bad grade. And this was in third grade! How silly! My teacher would have understood! Was it worth that? Did I gain anything by worrying? Only a stomachache. It didn’t get my homework done. I only lost sleep, so it hurt my health in more than one way.

Learning to trust God and give Him your worry is a slow learning process. Even now, I worry. I can feel my blood pressure rise as we are trying to leave on a trip. I am so afraid I’ll forget something or that we will run out of money. I stay in constant prayer to combat it. I have to. I know God will take care of us, but it is my sinful nature I’m fighting. It may be a long process, but I know that one day I will look back and realize that I have stopped being so worried about so many things. With God’s help I will conquer worry and so can you.

The economy is awful right now, but God is bigger than economy. God has all the money and means in the universe. Don’t you think He can provide for you? Isn’t our God big enough?

Verses 28 – 30 say:

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies 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, O you of little faith?

What Jesus says here makes so much sense! If God can clothe the grass in splendor, don’t you think he can clothe us and provide for us in all the other ways we need? Look at our grass so full of dandelions. He has made the grass beautiful. Of course, you might not all agree, but ask Ella what her favorite flower is and she will say dandelions. If God has put that much thought into the grass, then you know he has put even more thought into us. We are much more complicated beings. He WILL take care of us if we just give worry to Him and ask for His help.

So, don’t let yourself slip into despair because you don’t know how you’ll pay your mortgage or where your next meal will come from. With God, the worry is pointless.

There are some ways that can help you learn to fully trust God. First of all, pray. Get to know Him as your most beloved friend. The more you know God, the easier it will be to trust Him because you will realize His awesome power.

Verse 33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

We’ve probably all heard about the earthquake in China and the cyclone in Myanmar. In both countries, Buddhism is, by far, the dominate religion. Now I’m not saying that God is punishing them or anything like that. But, these countries need to turn to God for help in their time of need. God can provide for their needs. Right now in Myanmar, the government is stopping aid from other countries! That is shockingly sad. China is faring a little better, but is still in need. The Ms, missionaries to East Asia that we have had here in the past-they have those cute Chinese daughters, were in their 20th story apartment when the earthquake hit. They are all fine, but their building was swaying so hard that they could not walk across the room to get to each other. A building near them collapsed. Their building only lost a few pieces of metal sheeting. I do believe that God was protecting them. Our own country needs to turn back to God, as well. As a nations we are getting farther and farther from God.

So, secondly, we need to ask God for help! Tell God about your worry. Tell him you don’t want to worry and that you need His help not to. I do this so often. I trust God a lot, but still not enough. It is always a work in progress. He WILL help you. All you need to do is trust and ask.

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Lastly, follow God’s instructions. He may tell you how to take care of the situation. I’ve heard stories of people going to the grocery store without any money because God told them to. When they get there, someone payed for all their groceries! Miraculous things will happen when you follow God! God may also tell you to do nothing. He may tell you to wait on Him and His timing. If so, you better do it! Nothing is more wonderful than when you see God working. Our plans cannot measure up to God’s. Why get a mediocre outcome when you can have a miraculous one? Wait on Him and His timing.

One more thing, verse 34 tells us to worry only about today. This is another thing that is hard for me to do. I know it must be hard for others as well. But, today does have enough worries, so why borrow from tomorrow? Trust God with today’s worries and tomorrow’s worries. Give Him your everything. Choose His path and rely on Him for your provision! He WILL provide. Don’t let yourself slip into despair when God is standing with His arms outstretched saying, “Come to me, my child. I want to help you. I want to love you and I want to comfort you.” Let your whole body fall into His arms.