Greg Laurie - Hurried, Worried, Buried
You know when I was in Australia a number of years ago for one of our crusades I noticed they have an expression there I really like. You will be talking to an Aussie. That is what they call themselves, and ask them a question. They will say, "That is not a knife. This here is a knife". No. That is Crocodile Dundee. Sorry. You will say, "How do I get to this place"? Whatever you need. They will answer you. They are very friendly. They will usually say this. "No worries mate. You go right over there". "No worries mate".
I like that. That is good theologically. No worries mate. It is theologically sound. We do have a lot of worries don't we? A lot of things that weigh us down. A lot of things that concern us. A lot of things cause us anxiety. We worry about what we are going to eat. We worry about what we are going to wear. We worry about where we are going to live. We worry about our employment. We worry about our family. We worry about just about everything. We worry when things are going good because we are concerned when they are going to bad. Then when they are bad we worry about if they will ever be good again.
How many of you would classify yourself as a worrywart? Raise your hand up. How many of you don't really have a big problem with worry? Raise your hand. You will by the time I am done preaching. I think of that great theologian Charlie Brown who made this statement about worry. "I have developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time". Or that other great theologian Alfred E Newman. Remember him from the cover of Mad Magazine. His slogan was "Me worry". Now let me quote a real theologian. Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones who said this. "The result of worrying about the future is that you cripple yourself in the present".
Yet there are so many things happening in our world today that could cause us to worry. The war on terrorism is far from over. It rages on. We have a terrorist army the likes of which we have never seen before that call themselves ISIS. We have this new disease in our country that wasn't supposed to spread called Ebola. We have rogue nations like North Korea and Iran arming themselves with nuclear capabilities. Then there is our economy that isn't as strong as it could be. Then there are personal problems. There are problems at your job. Problems with your family. Problems with your health. Life is just filled with so many worries.
There are a lot of things that do concern us. Studies have been done among Americans. They have asked them what they worry about the most. They are predictable things. Middle age Americans worry most about their finances. They also worry about being audited by the IRS. Maybe there is a connection there. A growing concern today among many is a fear of being hacked. That someone would get your personal credit card information or that your smartphone or computer would be stolen. Then there was an article that was out awhile back about a bunch of celebrities that were upset because their smartphones had been hacked and now photos of these people are on the internet and they are naked. I have a thought about that. Don't take pictures of yourself naked. Ever. That pretty much solves it for good.
Among the studies that have been done and people have been asked about what they worry about the most usually at the top of the list is my appearance. That is amazing. I don't care if I lose my house or I die in a nuclear blast. How do I look in this outfit? Or for some. How do I look without an outfit? Usually on the list of fears or worries is the fear of speaking publicly. In fact the fear of speaking publicly is usually higher than the fear of dying. Can you imagine that? You can die right now or give a short speech. "Kill me". How many of you have a fear of public speaking? Raise your hand if you have that fear. Could you come up here right now? Seriously. Would you? I wouldn't do that. She is like....
There is an old fable that is told about the dangers of worry. As the story goes death was walking toward a city one morning. A man stopped death and said, "Where are you going"? Death said, "I am going into that city to take 100 people". "That is horrible" the man says. Death responds, "That is what I do". The man ran ahead of death to warn everyone he could. Evening fell and that man met death again. The man said, "I thought you were only going to "Take 100 people. Why did 1,000 people die"? Death responded, "I kept my word. I took only 100 people. Worry took the rest". That is how life can be. Worry can get us. Did you know that 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are stress related complaints or disorders? Know this. Most of what we worry about never actually happens. Dr. Walter Calvert reported a survey on worry that indicated only eight percent of the things people worried about were legitimate matters of concern and the other 92% were either imaginary or never happened.
Here is the question. How can we overcome fear and worry? The Bible has something to say about this and Christ himself addresses this topic here in the Sermon on the Mount. We are in a series that we are calling God Came Near. It is a chronological look at the life of Christ from all four Gospels. We have sort of parked our Bible bus as J. Vernon McGee would call it temporarily in the parking lot of the Sermon on the Mount just to take in these amazing teachings from our Lord. We have seen what Christ has to say about a lot of topics and now we will see what he has to say about worry.
Matthew 6:25. "Jesus says, 'therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink: nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns: yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin: and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, o you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat"? or "What shall we drink"? Or "What shall we wear"? for after all these things the gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.'"
Here is the most important verse. In fact I would like us all to read it together. Matthew 6:33 "'But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.'" Every believer should commit that verse in particular to memory.
1. The believer should not worry. Jesus is not saying that the believer should not be concerned about the necessities of life. He is not saying that we should not think about them or plan for the future. The Bible encourages us to work hard, to save our money, and so forth. What he is saying is that we should not worry about these things. Verse 25. "Do not worry about your life". Another translation could go as follows. "Don't have anxiety about the issues of life". The word that is used here indicates something that divides, separates, or distracts us. Actually the word worry from the old English word means to choke. It chokes you out.
The other day I was playing with some of my grandkids. They started choking me. They thought that was very entertaining. Then they kind of took it up a few notches and they are jumping on my back and grabbing me from behind. I said, "OK kids lets back off a little bit. You are hurting papa". They came back a few days later and one of them asked, "Can we choke you again papa"? A great form of entertainment. Choking your grandfather. That is what worry does to us. It chokes us. It cuts us off. In the Greek this command of Christ to not be anxious includes the idea of stopping what has already been done. Effectively Jesus is saying, "Stop worrying about your life. Stop it. You have been doing it up to this point and you need to stop doing it".
Interestingly we sort of elevate worry as a virtue. "Because I care I worry". Wait a second. Is worry a virtue? I don't think it is at all. In fact, I think worry can be a sin. I am not saying all worry is a sin. But I am saying it can be a sin. I would readily admit it is a sin I have committed. I have worried about things unnecessarily. I have fretted and been filled with anxiety just like you have been. Why is it a sin potentially? Because it is a lack of trust in God. I am really saying, "God isn't in control. God is not taking care of me in this situation. I am not trusting in the providence of God". If you are a real Christian and you believe the Bible you will know this. God is in control of all circumstances that surround your life and there are no accidents in the life of the Christian. That is an important thing to know.
Yet we will worry about a lot of things. Here is the problem with worry. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows. It empties today of its strength. Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due. Here is an illustration of a guy who could have worried but did not. His name was Daniel. Daniel the prophet. Remember him you all know the story of how he was thrown into the lion's den so I won't go into it. His enemies hatched a plot to have him killed because they wanted him out of the way. They were jealous of his power and influence with the king. The king unwittingly signed into law a decree that no man could pray to any God but the king. Because Daniel was a man of prayer he ends up in a den of lions so he is going to die no question about it.
By the way I just read an article in the paper about a man in a Russian zoo. I guess he thought he was some kind of a modern Daniel. He decided to climb into the den of the lioness in the Kiev zoo and he screamed out, "God will save me if he exists". Well God exists. But he didn't save this crazy guy and the lion killed him immediately. There is a difference between trusting the Lord and testing the Lord. Daniel was not testing the Lord. He was put in to a lion's den because of his faithfulness to God. What is fascinating about this story is the king himself could not reverse the law he ignorantly set into place yet that king spent the night worrying and Daniel spent the night sleeping like a baby. The guy in the lion's den had a good night's sleep. The guy in the palace did not. That is how it is when you are walking right with God you can just kick back and rest in him. The Bible even says, "He gives his beloved sleep".
The Bible tells us we should cast all of our care on him for he cares for us. That is 1 Peter 5:7. The word that is used there for care is the same used here in the Sermon on the Mount. The idea of casting is throw something. It would be like you are carrying a bunch of extra weight. Maybe you just got off of the plane. You had a lot of carryon stuff. You had your backpack and you are schlepping along your roller bag and you have another suitcase. A friend says, "Hey man let me take that load". "Gladly. Thank you buddy". He takes that load off of you. That is what this is saying. Take your worries and throw them on God. Throw them on Christ.
I like what Martin Luther said. He said, "Pray and let God worry". God is not going to worry. Pray. That is really the secret. In Philippians it says, "Don't worry about anything but pray about everything, and the peace of God that passes all human understanding will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus". Turn your worries into prayers. The next time you are gripped by fear and worry. "What if this happens? What if that happens"? Turn it into a prayer. Boom. Straight to heaven. "Lord I don't know, but I trust you and you are in control and I commit this to you right now". We need to be looking to the Lord in this way and letting him give us his peace.
Jesus says, "Check out the birds. "Check out the flowers". Here is Christ giving the Sermon on the Mount. Where did he give it? He gave it in the region of Galilee. All around him were birds chirping away and beautiful wildflowers growing. He draws on the background to make his point. In verse 26 he says, "Look at the birds". In other words look at what is in front of your eyes. Have you ever seen a stressed out bird? Birds wake up every morning and they are just singing away. They are just happy. No bird has ever been promised eternal life. No bird has ever been given the hope of heaven. Yet they sing away every day. Jesus is not saying the birds sit by idly and wait for the food to come to them. They take action.
We have a little birdfeeder in our backyard that I bought. I fill it with birdseed. Those birds know there is going to be breakfast there. They cruise in and they are eating the seed. Then there are those little hummingbirds. I love those birds. Don't ever give a hummingbird coffee. What would happen? They are just so full of energy. Beautiful little creatures. They know the food is there. They have to go get the food for themselves. They get the seeds off of the ground or the vegetation or hang out at McDonalds or in-n-out burger and wait for the first fry to hit the ground. That is how they are going to do it. Then of course there are the seagulls which I have denigrated on a regular basis. I may be denigrating seagulls now more than cats. I have not received any letters from seagull lovers. There are probably some out there.
Seagulls are thieves. They steal your food. I have said this many times yet I went to the beach the other day with my wife and my son Jonathan and his wife Britni and three of our grandchildren Rylie, Allie, and little Christopher. On the way down I bought a fish burrito. I had it in the bag. I left it there. We went walking down the beach. I came back and the seagulls were attacking our camp. I thought, "I can't believe it. I left a fish burrito for them". I was so mad I was cursing the seagulls. I wasn't using profanity. More like a biblical curse in a way on them. "Why did I leave this burrito"?
Then I was adjusting my towel and there was the burrito. They hadn't taken it at all. I had falsely charged the seagulls and denigrated them. We hugged it out. It is very awkward hugging seagulls. They are not all that affectionate. They know what I have been saying about them for years. There are the birds. The birds don't get stressed out. The birds have their food. Then there are the flowers Jesus says. Verses 28-29. "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin". And by the way, when Jesus talked about the lilies he wasn't speaking of what we might call an Easter Lily. It was more like the wildflowers of Galilee. Just those beautiful flowers. You will see them here in California as well. They are especially pretty there in the Galilee region growing. Jesus is saying, "Even Solomon the king in his royal robes was not dressed like one of these beautiful flowers".
So really now he is talking about the way that you look. Your appearance. We have a culture that is so obsessed with the way that they look. We are always wanting to look better. Change our bodies. We want to look like those people on the magazine covers. The problem is the people on the magazine covers don't even look like the people on the magazine covers. Have you ever heard of photoshop and air brushing? The things that they do to these people. Those people you see on the covers many times don't even exist in real life. Yet with cosmetic surgery today you can almost become anyone.
I read an article with the title, "Beauty junkies: examining a society obsessed with appearance". The article says, "Feel cheated in the looks department? With enough money, you can nip and tuck your way to a whole new you. You can redo your teeth, plump your lips, reshape your nose, reduce your thighs. Medicine allows us to enhance cheekbones, shorten toes to fit into designer stilettos". I had never heard about that before. "Improve a chin, increase breast size and freeze the forehead so wrinkles no longer appear there". By the way, I have tried all of this. It doesn't work that well. I am kidding. You look at these famous people. The beautiful people.
You say, "If only I could be like one of them"? Really? Careful what you wish for. I just read an interview that Jennifer Lopez did. She has a new book out. I think it is called True Love. In the article it says, "Jennifer Lopez finally "Admits her diva ways and enormous entourage could "Have hurt her famous romances. "The singer blamed the failure of her relationships with Ben Affleck and husband Marc Antony partly on her omnipresent army of handlers of hair and makeup stylists. J. Lo travels with her manager, a cadre of stylists and handlers as well as her trainers. She admits now she is in therapy trying to find answers". Hey Jenny from the block. You don't need a therapist. You need Jesus Christ. He has the answers you are looking for.