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James Merritt - Help Me With Worry

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    James Merritt - Help Me With Worry
TOPICS: So Help Me God, Worry

There're certain things we all should be concerned about. For example, if you have children, you ought to be concerned that they get a good education. You ought to be concerned that they hang around with the right kids and the right people, and they make the right friends. You ought to be concerned that they don't get addicted to drugs or the alcohol or pornography. And as a matter of fact, if those things don't concern you, then you probably need to work on your parenting skills. You ought to be concerned about saving money for a rainy day. You ought to be concerned for planning for retirement. If you don't do that, you're foolish.

Because you see, there's a difference between being carefree and being careless. But worry, that's a different matter. There may be cause for concern, but there's never cause for worry. And worry, is something that the greatest sermon ever preached in history, by the greatest preacher who ever lived, Jesus Christ, dealt with. Jesus took this issue of worry head on and He addressed it with the greatest advice you'll ever hear about worry. If you bought a copy of God's Word, or you wanna look on on maybe your computer screen or an iPad or a smartphone, just turn to a gospel called Matthew. And, real easy to find. There's two parts of the Bible, Old Testament, New Testament. New Testament begins with the gospel of Matthew.

I want you to turn to Matthew 6. In one single simple succinct statement, Jesus gives the same piece of advice concerning worry. Here's what Jesus said. He said, "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own". Now, will be the first one to admit something to you. It's a lot easier to talk about how not to worry, than it is not to worry. I mean, I'm just telling you right now. It's a lot easier to talk about overcoming worry, than it is to overcome it. As a matter of fact, can I be honest? I'm even worried right now that my sermon is gonna help you quit worrying, okay?

So, the advice that Jesus gives us here, really does work if you put it to work. And what I'm going to do today is, I'm gonna share with you, out of this book, out of God's Word, three steps to take that I guarantee you will help you quit being the worrywart that you may be, and I know sometimes that I am, all right? They're so simple, but they work. I've tried them in my life and I promise you, they do work. Number one, thank God for yesterday. If you wanna overcome your problem with worry, thank God for yesterday. Now, before we actually get into the sermon that Jesus preached, and we talk about what He actually said, I want you to consider how you can use the past to help you face the present and the future. How can you use yesterday to help you with today and tomorrow, when it comes to worry, all right?

Well, let me just begin with a simple question. In case right now you're worried about tomorrow, you're worried about next week, you're worried about how you're gonna make the next payment, the next bill, you're worried about the doctor's report, whatever it may be you're worried about right now, let me just ask you one simple question. You're here now, aren't you? I mean, you've made it to this point. So whatever you worried about in the past up until now, you've survived. Yeah, you may be a little bruised, you may be beaten, you may be a little bit battered, but you're still here, you're still breathing, you're still talking, you're still listening to me, you're still hearing this message. And there's only one reason, there's only one way you can explain why you're still here. God kept you here, God got you here.

Now what I wanna do is, I wanna go back to a conversation that took place about 3,000 years ago between a man named Moses and God. You may not know the story, but just kind of recap. Moses is at a place now in his life, he's just led two plus million people for 40 years, through desert and wilderness, with no grocery stores, no credit cards, no water wells, but they have finally made it to the edge of the Promised Land. Now, the people are glad, they're glad the journey's over, they're glad the 40 years is behind them, and they're glad they're about to enter into the Promised Land, but quite frankly, they're worried. You say, "Well, why are they worried"? Because they know it's not going to be easy. Because there're already plenty of people who have already settled in the Promised Land, they already owned that land, and they're veterans of war, they're battle-hardened, and they're not going to go up or give up without a fight.

And so, these people really don't know right now, "Can we pull this off or not? And even if we can, how much blood do we have to spill? How many lives are going to be lost"? So then we read these words from Moses. Listen to what Moses does, it's a brilliant strategy. He says, "The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you," now watch this, "As he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. Therefore you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place". Now, what does Moses do? He says, "Look, let's take a trip down memory lane. Let's quit worrying about tomorrow, let's even leave today, and let's go back to yesterday. Think about what God has done for you in the past".

So he reminds them of how God parted the Red Sea. He reminds them of how God destroyed the Egyptian army. He reminds them of how in the wilderness, God gave them manna, that is He gave them bread every morning. And in every night, He gave them quail. They didn't have to bake the bread, they didn't have to shoot the quail, God just gave it to them. And he said, "Just remember for 40 years, whether you needed food, or water, or shelter, didn't God always come through? And didn't got always come through at the right time, at the right way, with the right thing"? So Moses' simple question was this, look, "If God has taken care of you yesterday, don't you think God can take care of you today"? It's a valid question.

Oh, by the way, then 700 years later, God said exactly the same thing to the nation of Israel through a prophet named Isaiah. I want you to listen to what He said to this nation. He said, "Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom," now listen to these words, "I have upheld since your birth and I have carried since you were born". God said, "Since the moment you were conceived in your mother's womb, I was taking care of you. When you came out of your mother's womb, I was taking care of you. You wouldn't be here right now, if I was not taking care of you. When you didn't even know I existed, when you didn't even know you existed, I was taking care of you". But it gets better, He goes on to say this. "Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you, I will sustain you and I will rescue you".

God fast forwards to the end of life when you're about to draw your last breath, he says, "Look, before you were born, I was there taking care of you. Now that you're alive, I'm here taking care of you. And when you come to the end of your life, I will be there taking care of you". See, life is kind of like two bookends. And from the moment you are conceived in your mother's womb, to the moment that you take your last breath and die, God was there, God is there, and God will always be there taking care of you. And I promise you, every one of us could look back at some time in our life, and we can see how God provided in that situation and God protected in that situation.

So, if you kind of feel like right now you've got an Egyptian army behind you, and a Red Sea before you, and you're worried, the first thing I would say to you is this, why don't you take a moment and just thank God for yesterday. Just remember how God has been faithful in the past, and realize He will be faithful in the present and in the future. So, how do you get rid of worry? How do you handle worry? How do you defeat worry? All right, number one, thank God for the past. All the things He's already done yesterday to prove He's got your back. Step two, turn to God for today. Thank God for yesterday, turn to God for today.

Now, let's look back here in Matthew 6, at the part of this fantastic sermon, where Jesus is dealing with worry. I wanna read three verses for you and to you. And I want you to kind of listen carefully to something that He repeats. First we're in verse 25. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you'll eat or drink, or about your body, or what you'll wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes"? Then we'll skip down to verse 31. "So, do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear?'" And then we skip down to verse 34. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own".

Now, you notice that we've highlighted for you, three words, three times. Jesus says it ad infinitum, ad nauseum, "Do not worry. Do not worry. Do not worry". Now understand that when Jesus is talking about worry, He's obviously not talking about yesterday, because yesterday is gone, He's talking about today and tomorrow. Here's why. Worry is always about today and tomorrow. You can't worry about yesterday, because yesterday is already gone. So when you worry, you worry about today and tomorrow. Well, you act in the present and you think about the future. So when you worry, why do you worry? You worry today about what's going to happen tomorrow, that's the way it always works. You worry today, about what's going to happen tomorrow. Therefore, Jesus is saying, "Look, you gotta take care of today, before you can take care of tomorrow".

That's why Jesus goes on to add this in verse 34. "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own". In other words Jesus is saying this, look, since the only day I can take care of is today, the question is, how can I depend on God just for today? I can't worry about yesterday, it's gone. Why won't I worry about tomorrow, it's not even here. And by the way, it may not ever even get here, we may not even make it till tomorrow. So the question is, how can I trust God just for today? Well, this is why Jesus is Jesus. He does something I would have never thought about, you would have never thought about, the most brilliant philosophers and scientists and professors on the planet would have never thought about it. Jesus gives two simple illustrations to prove, that we can all depend on God for today.

Now, before we look at them, I wanna remind you, that there's something you and I can do that God can't do. Now I know that may shock you when I say that, but there is something you can do and I can do, God absolutely can't do. You say, "What in the world is that"? You and I can break a promise, but God can't. You and I can tell a lie, but God can't. You and I can make a promise we can't keep, but God cannot. And Jesus tells us, we can just look outside our window and we can see evidence of how God promises to take care of us today. So, He gives an illustration, listen to verse 26. He says, "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"?

Now, here's a question for you. Have you ever seen a worried bird? I mean, seriously? Have you ever seen a bird on the ground pacing the dirt? Did you know there's never been a bird in medical history that's ever been treated for hypertension? Did you know they don't have blood pressure medicine for birds? Did you know birds have never suffered strokes? I mean, think about it. What Jesus is saying is, worry is so worthless it's not even for the birds. Even birds don't do that. Now, there's a great lesson, perching on trees every single day, and it's very simple. If God takes care of birds, don't you think He'll take care of you? Now, maybe you're not into birds, or maybe you're still not satisfied, or maybe you're still not convinced.

So, God says, "Okay, you're not into birds, let's try flowers". Jesus says, "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They don't labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. And 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"? Now I asked you a while ago, if you've ever seen a worried bird, let me ask you this question, have you ever seen a flower break into a sweat? I mean, have you ever seen a flower shaking and trembling? Have you ever seen a flower, you know, on the phone calling 911? I've never seen a flower pacing a flower bed.

As a matter of fact, if you look outside your window, whether it's tulips, or roses or lilies, doesn't matter, it is God's way of telling you, "Look, just as I feed the birds, and just as I clothe the flowers, I'll feed you, I'll clothe you, I'll give you all the things in life that you need, because surely you understand you are far more valuable than the birds of the air and the flowers of the land". So in other words, here's my point. Take whatever you are worried about right now, and I'm sure most of us are worried about something. As a matter of fact, some of you may be worried that you're not worried about something. So take whatever you're worried about right now, and turn it to God. I mean, just realize, God has taken care of you, and God is taking care of you, realize that God's got your back and realize that God can handle whatever you're worried about. Look, He handled everything yesterday, didn't he? Well, yes. Then He will handle everything today.

So, think about it. You thank God for yesterday. Look back at all the times that God came through for you. And by the way, you'll find out He has a 100% success rate, He Never fails. And then you turn to God for today, because today is the only day that you have. You worry about tomorrow, you can only act today. So take that action, turn to God for today. All right, now watch this. If this doesn't make sense. If, I can thank God for yesterday, and If I can turn to God for today, then does it not stand to reason that I can trust God for tomorrow? If I can thank God for yesterday, and if I can turn to God for today, doesn't it make sense to believe that I can trust God for tomorrow?

Now listen to what Jesus said as He kind of wraps up this section of this sermon. He says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things," what things? The things you really need, food, clothing, shelter, whatever those needs may be. All these things will be given to you as well. "Therefore," that's why the therefore is therefore, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own". So, now I'm gonna give you Dr. Merrit's antidote to worry, okay? Here's my prescription. You don't have to go to the drug store to get it, you're gonna get it right here, okay?

Here's the prescription for worry. Substitute worship for worry. There's your answer. Substitute worship for worry. He said, "Seek first God and His kingdom". What does that mean? That means you focus your attention on worshiping the God who made you, the God who loves you, the God who cares for you, the God who can handle anything for you. And I promise you this, when you begin to worship the ghost of worry disappears. Yesterday is gone, you can't change it. Tomorrow is a maybe, you can't touch it. All you can do is live in the present. That's why I love this definition of worry, it's my favorite definition. Worry is the interest we pay in advance today for trouble that may never come tomorrow. You know that's true. My good dear friend, Zig Ziglar, he's such a positive thinker, some of you have heard of Zig before. Zig used to tell me, "James, 90% of the things I worried about all my life, never happened," and you know that's true. Worry is the interest we pay in advance for trouble that may never come tomorrow.

I love philosophy. And my favorite philosopher, the deepest philosopher I've ever read is, Yogi Berra. He was the Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees. You know what Yogi Berra said? Yogi bear said, "It's tough to make predictions especially about the future," you know that's true. You really can't predict the future. You don't even know if there's going to be a future or not.

So, the first thing you've got to do, if you're going to deal with worry is this, listen, you have got to leave tomorrow alone. You've gotta get tomorrow out of your windshield, you've gotta get tomorrow out of the car, you've gotta get tomorrow out of your line of vision, you have got to leave tomorrow alone. Because, here's why. When tomorrow comes, God's already promised, "I'll give you the strength that you need for tomorrow. I'll give you the grace that you need for tomorrow. I'll give you the wisdom that you need for tomorrow. But for today, you've already got all the grace and you've already got all the strength that you need".

Listen, the reason why the calendar gives every day its own number is because, you're supposed to leave them in that order, just as God arranged them. Let's say something comes your way, and the demon of worry invades your heart, okay? The doctor sees a spot on your lungs. Or you've just got the dreaded pink slip from your office, or you just found out that your spouse is having second thoughts about the marriage, all right? Let's just stop. What are you gonna do? You've lost your job, you may have cancer, your ship may be sailing into a storm of marital difficulty. What are you gonna do? Well, you're gonna do, one of two things, and by the way, you'll always do one of two things. You'll either pour all this bad news into this bowl called worry, and then you'll heat it up, and you'll stir it up, and you'll begin to take small bites, and you'll eat it until you're sick of it, then you'll eat it some more knowing that you're drowning in a sea of depression, and defeat, and discouragement, you can do that.

But I got news for you. Is that gonna move them all down the field? No. Is that gonna take care of your problem? No. Is it gonna make you feel any better? Absolutely not. But you can do that. Or, you can give all of that to God, every bit of it to Him. And say, "Lord, I can't handle this, you handle it. Lord I can't take care of this, you take care of it". See, you can take your worry and you can turn it into worship. I want to show you something. This basketball, NBA basketball. In my hands, this particular basketball is kind of an indoor, outdoor basketball, recreational. In my hands, that basketball's worth about 19 bucks. In Stephen Curry's hands, that basketball's worth $33 million. Or for example.

See this baseball? My hands, baseball's worth about six bucks. In Clayton Kershaw's hands, it's worth about $34 million. This golf club, this golf club, I don't know whose it is, it's old as dirt. I would never play with this club. But, in my hands, that club's worth about maybe 20 bucks. In tiger woods hands, is worth 14 major championships, worldwide fame, and close to a billion dollars in net worth. These spikes, in my hands, these spikes are worthless, 'cause I can't build anything. If I'd been Noah, everybody would have gone under. But in the hands of Jesus, these spikes can produce salvation for the entire world. You see, it all depends on whose hands they're in. Now listen carefully. You can take every concern, every anxiety, every worry, every fear, every storm that you're in, and you could put them all in God's hands. Because they're not only big enough to hold them, they're strong enough to handle them. And when you take your worry, and you turn your worry into worship, God can take your problems and turn them into peace.
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