Doug Batchelor - Worrying About Stuff - Part 2
It's a very common topic in the Bible to address the anxiety and concern that people have. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, got right into it. He said, in chapter 6 of Matthew, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things." He commands us not to worry. Worry wears away the life forces. Worry robs us of our joy. Someone once said, 'Worry brings tomorrow's difficulties into today.' God doesn't give you grace for tomorrow's difficulties, He only gives you grace for today. Worry does not take the sorrow out of tomorrow, it only takes tomorrow's sorrow and brings it today and then less prepares you to deal with tomorrow's sorrow. And so, it's debilitating.
You know, I was reading in the news not long ago - many of us here in Northern California remember last year there was a terrible fire in Oakland and 36 people perished in that fire in the warehouse in Oakland. The authorities later determined that it was probably due to what they called an overloaded circuit. They had too many things plugged into a breaker that was only designed to handle so many amps. And, because they did this, some wires heated up, they shorted out, they caught on fire, the fire spread.
There was only one exit downstairs; most people were trapped upstairs and died from the smoke inhalation. And a lot of death and damage was caused by an overloaded circuit. When you spend all your time worrying about things for tomorrow, and the week after, and the month after that, and you just pile one on top of the other, you overload your truck - you blow out the tires - you overload your circuits and it fries. And God didn't design us this way. That's why Jesus said, in His discourse about worry, He said, 'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.' Now, that's kind of the old English way of saying, 'God gives you enough grace to deal with the problems of today.'
There are problems in life. The Bible's pretty clear about that. God uses troubles to teach us and to test us. You can read in the book of Job chapter 5, verse 7, "Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward." We're going to have problems in life. And, in Acts 14:22 Paul said, "Strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.'" Tribulations is related to the word 'trouble'. It's through trouble we enter the kingdom.
There's going to be trouble, there's going to be problems, but God does not want you to worry about these troubles. He wants us to learn to trust through the troubles. So often in the Bible, the Children of Israel came to a point where it looked like it was hopeless. They'd be at the borders of the Red Sea, they'd have mountains on both sides, an ocean in front, and an army of angry Egyptians charging down on them. They weren't armed and they started to cry out and worry. 'What do we do?' You know what God told them? 'Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.' God allowed the trouble to come that they might develop trust.
Deuteronomy 33:25 promises, "Your sandals shall be iron" - that sounds uncomfortable but I’ll explain - "and bronze; as your days, so shall your strength be." Meaning that they won't wear out. You know, for the forty years they were in the wilderness, God said, 'Your shoes didn't wear out. Your clothes didn't wear out.' He said, 'As your days, so shall your strength be.' God is not going to give you herculean strength for today that you really don't need until tomorrow. When the challenge comes He gives you the strength.
People have asked me, 'Pastor Doug, do you think you've got enough faith?' You've probably wondered this yourself. 'If we get tortured for our faith, do you have enough faith where you would not deny Jesus in the face of torture?' And my answer would be, 'Not today I don't. But, I hope that when that day comes, I will.' And so, I'm not going to worry about that now because, as your days, so will your strength be. You're not to say, 'Lord, give me this month my monthly bread, you say, 'Give me this day my daily bread.'
Now, when God tells you not to worry, it doesn't mean that you're not to plan. But a lot of things we worry about, we don't ever have to deal with. Somebody did a study about the average person and what they worry about and they found that 40 percent of what people worry about never happens. Reminds me of that lady that was always telling people, 'Don't tell me worry doesn't do any good, the things I worry about never happen.' She thought that's because she worried about them. 40 percent of what people worry about never happens. 30 percent of what people worry about has already happened and you can't do anything about it.
Have you ever spent time worrying about regrets? Or you come away from a difficult conversation and you keep thinking about what you should have said? I've done that. Or you've made bad decisions and you just keep rehashing it and then, you know, every now and then the Lord says, 'You can't change it. It's in the past.' but we still worry about things - it's too late - spend time in regret. 12 percent worry about what others say about them - and you can't really change much about that. 10 percent worry - deals with your health and, of course, worrying about your health can always make your health worse. That means that leaves about 8 percent of things that are worth consideration.
Most of what we worry about is really a big waste of time. Now, when the Bible says, 'Do not worry about your life' - Jesus said, 'Do not worry about your life' - that's a command - that doesn't mean don't ever think or plan. He's not asking us to just kind of go skipping idiotically through life, without a care in the world - not worried about anything - and being irresponsible. God does want you to think. And there are scriptures that talk to us about planning. Proverbs 21:5, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty." You should plan. Proverbs 11:14, "Where there is no council the people fail; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." And Jesus said, 'Which of you, intending to build a tower, doesn't sit down first and count the cost?' There needs to be planning in life. God is practical in that way.
There's a difference between being aware that there's a problem and worrying about the problem. Stressing and being anxious, and fretting and wringing your hands and losing sleep - we need to know how to commit our troubles to the Lord.
I heard about a man that came out from this office building in Chicago and the policeman was writing him a ticket for double parking. He said, 'What in the world possessed you to make you do this?' The man said, 'Well, whenever I go to the dentist, I’ll always double park because it gives me something to think about. I worry about getting a ticket and I don't think about the drill.' It's a diversion.
Now, you might be wondering, 'Pastor Doug, are you saying that worrying is a sin?' Well, it can be. I mean, whenever Jesus says, 'Thou shalt not worry' and you worry, you wonder, 'Well, is it a sin?' Well, first of all, romans 14:23 says, "...for whatever is not from faith is sin." And so, if we're spending a lot of time worrying about things, it means you don't trust that there's a God who can help you. Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." In one sense, when we worry, we make ourselves God, and that's idolatry - as though we have power to change our circumstances.
It's like this man who was walking around New York City clapping his hands over his head and someone finally asked him, 'Why do you do that?' He said, 'It keeps the lions away.' He said, 'It keeps the lions away? There haven't been any mountain lions in New York City for 150 years.' He said, 'Effective, isn't it?' Someone once said a day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work. Luke 12:29: "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind."
He's not saying don't think about it, but don't be anxious about it. "For all these things the nations of the world seek after..." Jesus is saying you're no different than the unbelievers if you just worry all the time about these things. God'll take care of you. Your Father knows you need these things - "But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added."
I remember talking to a dear friend of mine, a builder, and he went up to Alaska during a building boom and he was doing very well. And then the bottom fell out and it hit hard and they were over-extended and then just almost overnight they had no money - and the house payments - had nowhere to go and this family was totally out of food - but they were Christians - had three kids. And they said, 'Look, the Lord knows that we need food. He's promised He will not let us go hungry - we read it right here in the Word that, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give...to those who ask Him?" They said, 'Let's ask Jesus.'
So, with the three kids - they said, 'We need to teach the kids faith. We don't know where God's going to get us the food.' But they knelt down and they prayed. They told me this story. They said, 'While they're on their knees praying for food, the doorbell rings. It was a neighbor who worked for an airline. She said, 'Because of the weather, the flight was canceled. They've got all this food for the flight. Could you guys use any?' All these pre-prepared meals. They said,' We ate all this airline food that day - for several days - they gave them all these trays. But what do you think that did for the kids' faith? When they saw their parents, they were praying for food and the doorbell rings and there's food.
I've had the Lord do that for me and just miracles. So God'll provide your basics. He sent the apostles out and He said, 'When you go, don't take food. Don't take a purse. Don't take your credit card' - He didn't say that but that was the concept. He said, 'Don't take an extra staff.' He said, 'You go, you trust Me. Whatever house you enter, pray the blessing on the house. Hopefully they'll take care of you. And that was, you know, part of the hospitality back then. So worry contradicts your witness.
Oswald Chambers said, 'Worry is an indication that we think God can't look after us.' There are a lot of people who worry about what they don't have, but then there are a lot of people who worry about what they do have. We know there are people who worry that they don't have enough but, you know, there's a lot of people out there that worry because they have too much. I think it was Ben Franklin that said, 'Abundance destroys more people than want.' So you can worry both ways.
They've been having this fad called tiny living. Any of you ever seen some of this? And, you know, people are saying, 'You know, we need to because of the environment. We produce too much carbon and we need to reduce our carbon footprint so we need to start living smaller.' Part of the reason for that is, I don't know if you know the statistics but, in the last 45 years - from 1973 - the average American new home has gone up 1,000 square feet yet, during that same 45 years, the number of people in the house has gone down from 3.1 people to 2.5 people. So we've got fewer people in bigger houses than ever, and those houses are full of stuff too. Isn't that right?
How many of you drive down the neighborhood and you know your friends have a two-car garage but both cars are parked outside? No, we've got our cars in our garage - I'm just saying do you know? Have you seen that? Jesus said, a man's "...life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."
I think it's so funny, though, you watch these people say, 'You know, we want to reduce our carbon footprint and we're going to go into a tiny house.' And so, they'll show this program about how they build and design this tiny house and it does all this - they do everything they can to save space and they - very creative. And I sometimes have been next to Karen and it just cracks me up every time because when they first show them their new tiny house, they go in and say, 'Boy this is really small.' I think, 'That's what you said you wanted.' There's a law of life: you will fill whatever space you have. Move into a bigger house, wait a few years, watch what happens. You will fill whatever space you have and, if you live in America, you may rent extra space to store your stuff. And then you have to worry about your stuff. And you can't go on a mission trip because who's going to take care of your stuff? Am I right?
You can become a prisoner to your stuff. And you spend your weekends - you could be visiting with your neighbors and giving Bible studies - oiling and maintaining your stuff - and mowing your stuff. It got really quiet all of a sudden. Luke 8:14: Jesus said, "Now" - some of the seed - "fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard" - the Word of God - "go out and are choked with cares, riches..." You remember, we studied what the word 'worry' means - it comes from the word “wyrgan”. It's an ancient word. It means 'to choke; to strangle'. And sometimes the truth is strangled in our lives by worries and concern.
1 Timothy 6:6, "Now godliness with contentment is great gain." If we can be content and satisfied with a little bit, then everything else is a plus - "for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition." Notice that word 'drown' - "for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil," - money's not evil, but the love of it is - "for which some have strayed from the faith in greediness and then pierced themselves through with many sorrows." In spite of all the other problems that can come with that abundance, there's many sorrows that pierce them. Plain old worry.
You know, I hope you'll forgive me for quoting from a secular song, but there's an old hippie song Kris Kristofferson wrote, called “Me and Bobby McGee”. And there's a line in there that says, 'Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose'. And, in some ways, that's true. I remember just picking up my backpack and saying, I wonder what state I’ll go to today.'
Karen and I met a fellow when we were scuba diving in Hawaii a couple weeks ago and he said, 'When I travel I don't take anything with me. The airlines' - he said - 'I've got a little handbag and I just go from country' - he said - he got a pass. I don't think you can do it anymore, but he was telling us he got a pass on this airline, you can go anywhere in the world the airline flew - it was a world pass. You had to do it within a year. And he'd just go from one country to another - he'd just take his toothbrush and a few things and he'd go wherever he wanted. He was a very successful photographer - he'd work there. And I just - I kind of - I envied the freedom with which he would travel around the world. He'd tell us about all these exotic places that he went to and he said, 'Nah, I don't take anything with me. When I get there - you can buy food there. You can buy clothes there.' He said, 'And then I don't have to worry about anything.' Anyway, I just - I’ll try that, let me know.
People think happiness is going to come from more. It's not true. More things do not make you more valuable. That's one myth. Another myth is that more things will make you more popular. They'll just make people envy you. More things'll make you more secure. More things will bring more contentment - usually, if you're not content with what you have, more will not bring you more contentment because you'll discover there's something you don't have and then you'll be discontent. Or your neighbor will have something you don't have.
1 Timothy 6:8, "Having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." 2 Corinthians 9:8, "God is able to make all grace abound towards you that always having all sufficiency in all things" - you notice how many 'alls' there are? - "you may have an abundance for every good work." God is able to give you what you need to do His work. God is not going to send you out into the world to do His work and not supply what you need to do the work. God knows the things that you need.
Now, having said all that about not worrying, is there a time you should worry? Yeah, everything that God said about the promises and not having to worry, He's saying to those who have accepted Him. If you've not accepted Him, you should worry. You've really got something to worry about. Hebrews 10:26, "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation" - isn't that worry? - "of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries." If you're turning your back on God and you are refusing to follow God, then I hope you don't have peace. Why would you want someone to be comfortable on their way to destruction? So there is a time to worry.
The Bible says, in Isaiah 48:22, "'There is no peace,' says the Lord, 'for the wicked.'" He says that, actually, twice in His prophecy. Revelation 16:11, speaking of the lost, "They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds." They had something to worry about. But, for believers, we live by faith. It's a whole different world view.
You know the story about Peter walking on the water? He's surrounded by a storm and, as long as he had his eyes on Jesus, he was able to do the impossible. You can have peace in the midst of a storm. Christ was sleeping in a boat. The disciples woke Him up afraid, He said, 'Why are you afraid? Where is your faith?' He said, 'You shouldn't even worry about this.' And now Peter is walking on the water, he's looking at Jesus, in the storm, and then he takes his eyes off Jesus - he starts to sink. When he stopped looking at Jesus and he started looking at the waves and the wind, he started to worry. If you look at the problem and you don't look at the Lord, you will probably lose faith. The reason David was able to kill Goliath is he did not look at how tall Goliath was. He looked at how big God was.
John Wesley was walking one time with a friend who was just fretting and worrying about everything. And, as they're walking along, Wesley looked over into the field next to the road and he saw there was a cow looking over the wall - stone wall - and he said to his friend, 'Do you know why that cow's looking over the wall? His friend said, 'No.' And Wesley said, 'Because he can't see through the wall.' He said, 'You're trying to look through your problems. You need to look over your problems.'
Someone said you should start every day by opening the window of Heaven and saying, 'Lord, I'm Yours today.' And 'My problems are Your problems because I'm your child.' Will He take care of you? Amen. So Peter took his eyes off Jesus and Jesus said, 'Why did you doubt? Why did you look at the waves and the wind?' The Bible tells us if we fix our eyes upon Jesus - this is Hebrews chapter 12 - it says, "Therefore...since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin" - sometimes we worry about our sins, right? - "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race...looking unto Jesus." In the original it says, 'fixing our eyes on Jesus' - "the author and finisher of our faith." The reason we worry is we take our eyes off Jesus and we look at the wind and the waves. And we look at the problems.
Again, it doesn't mean you're to go through life oblivious that there are issues, but make sure that your faith is hanging on Christ.
So what's the answer for worry? Paul and Silas were in prison and, even though they had all kinds of reason to worry - I mean, they're in prison, they don't know how long they're in prison, they've just been beaten but, in the midst of their prison cell, they turn to God, they claimed the promises of God, they start to sing. Have you ever tried to sing a happy song when you're feeling worried? Either you're going to get mad at the song or it'll start changing your attitude.
Solomon said, you know, when someone sings to a sad heart, it's like vinegar. And - but, you know, if you start singing and praising God, the songs can actually bring you out of it. That's what Paul and Silas did. And, you know what? Did their situation change when they started to sing? Earthquake, chains broke, doors opened when they started to sing. Their problem disappeared that quick. I mean, who would have said, 'God's going to send an earthquake and solve my problem'? Usually earthquakes cause problems, right?
Of course, the Bible says the answer is "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Whether you have too little or too much, God'll take care of you and your problems if you seek first His kingdom. If we turn our eyes on Jesus - is God worried? Is He worried about your problems? If you're His child and if He's not worried, then why are you worried?
I remember hearing about a businessman got on an airplane one time and then one of the last they brought on the plane was this young 7 or 8 year-old boy that, unfortunately, was traveling between two divorced parents. First time he had to do this and the first time he had ever flown - and the flight attendant buckled him in next to this business man and the businessman could tell the young guy was very nervous. Maybe not just about being alone, but even about flying. And, as the plane was taxiing and their engines began to roar before takeoff, he saw the little fellow's hands were on the armrest and his knuckles were white. And the man looked down at the boy and said, 'This is my favorite part. Isn't this fun?' He looked and he saw the man smiling and showing so much excitement, he thought, 'Oh yeah, this is fun.' He relaxed immediately.
If you're traveling with your heavenly Father and He's not worried, why are you worried? He's got control. Amen. You don't have control. So, do what you can to be practical, and then cast your cares on the Lord because He cares for you. Amen?