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Lesson 14: Consider The Lilies: Trusting God Instead Of Controlling God (Matthew 6:25-34)

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I. Recap:

a.       Two kinds of treasures.

b.      Two kinds of eyes.

c.       Two kinds of masters.

d.      Main Point: Jesus needs to be prioritized and valued above all else.

i.  Pleasure, earthly security, wealth, and status all need to take a back seat to Jesus.

ii.                        The Master of Mammon is incompatible with the Master Jesus.

iii.                      It’s one or the other, but it won’t and it can’t be both.

e.       The result of proper priorities.  The result of a single-mindedness to Christ.  The result of all this is a freedom from anxiety and worry.

II.                      Intro:

a.       One main point:  Don’t be anxious, but trust the Lord.

b.      This entire section has to do with “worry.”

i.  It is mentioned 6 times.

ii.                        The word is actually ties to insomnia.

c.       Good worry and bad worry:

i.  Good worry is more like a concern.

ii.                        Bad worry is self-focused.

iii.                      I should be concerned that this sermon shows us Jesus and confronts us with truth,

iv.                      I shouldn’t worry if people like it or not.  My reputation.  Accolades.  That’s a self-focused worry. 

v.                         It is this self-focused anxiety and worry that Jesus confronts and rebukes.

III.                   The Realm of Anxiety (6:25-29).

a.       “Therefore I tell you”

i.  This section is tied to the previous section on money.

ii.                        This is the result of the previous section.

1.      The result of seeking worldly treasure.

2.      The result of having your vision blinded by money.

3.      The result of serving the god of Mammon…is worry and anxiety.

4.      BUT…

5.      The result of seeking treasures in heaven.

6.      The result of having a clear vision of eternity and have eternity stamped on our eyeballs.

7.      The result of rejecting the idol of Mammon and trusting in a better Master…is peace.

 

 

iii.                      “Therefore”

1.      If we haven’t come to grips with the pervious section, we are hopeless when we get to this section.

b.      “don’t be anxious about your life…”

i.  Jesus lays down the main point and principle:  Don’t worry about your life.

ii.                        Jesus is saying the exact same thing he said when he talked about earthly treasures: Don’t depend on them.

iii.                      Jesus is warning against the same sin as the pervious section: dependence on earthly things.

c.       The Lord rebukes worry:

i.  In the same way that it’s impossible to serve Money and God at the same time, it’s impossible to worry and trust God at the same time.

ii.                        If you are worrying, you are not trusting.

iii.                      The person who worries is basically sinning the sin of unbelief.

iv.                      The person who worries is essentially saying, “God, I don’t trust that you are competent or have my best interests in mind.”

v.                         “I know better than you do.”  Or, “I’m not totally convinced that you know best.”

vi.                      And so instead of trusting God, we try to control Him.

vii.                    Instead of peace and serenity and, we nervous with anxiety.

viii.                  We will either try to control God or Trust God, but we can’t do both.

ix.                      Worry and trust are as incompatible as the Master of Mammon and Master Jesus.

x.                         Luke 10:41, “But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

xi.                      Phil. 4:6-7, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

d.      Consider the Birds (v. 26) “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

i.  Consider the birds:

1.      They don’t sow, they don’t reap, they don’t gather…

2.      The Father feeds them.

ii.                        You are more valuable.

1.      Said the robin to the sparrow:

2.      ‘I should really like to know

3.      Why these anxious human beings

4.      Rush about and worry so.’

5.      Said the sparrow to the robin:

6.      ‘Friend, I think that it must be

7.      That they have no heavenly Father,

8.      Such as cares for you and me.’

e.       “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

i.  It’s an argument of absurdities.

ii.                        Anxiety is nonsensical.

iii.                      One statistician said that an average person's anxiety is focused on :

1.      40% -- things that will never happen 


2.      30% -- things about the past that can't be changed 


3.      12% -- things about criticism by others, mostly untrue 


4.      10% -- about health, which gets worse with stress 


5.      8% -- about real problems that will be faced.

iv.                      A woman who had lived long enough to have learned some important truths about life remarked, "I've had a lot of trouble -- most of which never happened!" She had worried about many things that had never occurred, and had come to see the total futility of her anxieties.

f.        Consider the Lilies-- “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…”

i.  The Lord clothes the lilies.

ii.                        The Lord cares about the lilies!

iii.                      Take a nature walk and consider the lilies.

1.      This is divine instruction to be a birdwatcher.

a.       There are probably billions of birds on the earth.

b.      They are all provided for. They sing in the mornings.

c.       They don’t give a care to the world.

2.      The Lord cares about His creation.

3.      I will never forget when I was in seminary at Denver Seminary, we had a visiting speaker who was a theologian of high esteem.

4.      I don’t remember his name, but I remember a story he told.

5.      He told of one day when he was at the seminary, it was a nice summer day, and he went outside to the campus lawn, and noticed some flowers.

6.      He laid down on his stomach and starting looking at this flower.

7.      He considered the lilies…and he did it…for four hours.

8.      Spurgeon: ‘Lovely lilies, how ye rebuke our foolish nervousness!’

iv.                      You don’t have to have a PhD in Applied Theology to know that God takes care of his creation.

1.      Take your kids on a nature walk.  Become an ornithologist!

2.      Slow way down…and…consider…

v.                         You are more valuable than lilies.

1.      The Lord cares for His creation and He cares for you!

g.      There is a textual connection in these two passages between materialism and complexity and anxiety.

i.  The more things you have, the more complex your life will be.

ii.                        The more complex your life is, the more reason to worry.

iii.                      The gospel of Jesus brings a simplicity.

iv.                      There is less of a focus on things.  Less of a focus on Mammon.  And more of a single-minded focus on Jesus which brings a measure of simplicity.

v.                         Single-mindedness to Jesus equals more, not less, simplicity.

vi.                      At the airport, Hugh Maclellan Jr. saw an acquaintance who looked troubled. “What’s the matter?” Hugh asked. The man sighed. “I thought I was finally going to have a weekend to myself. But now I have to go supervise repairs on my house in Florida.” Dejected, he sat waiting to take off in his private jet.  Here’s a man with everything he needs, and with resources that most people only dream of, yet he can’t even enjoy his weekend because he is enslaved by his possessions.” Alcorn

h.      There is a connection between mammon and anxiety:

i.  “Materialism is the mother of anxiety….People lay up treasures on earth rather than in heaven not only because of greed and selfishness, but also because of fear and insecurity. Yet putting our hope in earthly treasures does nothing but multiply anxiety. Why? Because earthly treasures are so temporary and uncertain.”  Alcorn, Randy

ii.                        There is a reason these two sections are connected…by the word “Therefore.”

iii.                      My wife and I have lived in the same house for twenty-five years. For the firsst nine years, we had an ugly, old, orange carpet. We didn’t care what happened to it. Finally it wore through to the floor, so we replaced it. The first day we got our new carpet, there was an accident that burned a hole in it. Any day previous to that one we wouldn’t have cared. But now our emotional energy was poured into regret and anxiety about the carpet. It takes time to hover over our things, and that time must come from elsewhere—from time we might spend cultivating intimacy with God, from time in his Word and prayer, time with family, time visiting the needy, time with people who need Christ. Every item I add to my possessions is one more thing to think about, talk about, clean, repair, display, rearrange, and replace when it goes bad. I can’t just buy a television. I have to hook up an antenna or subscribe to a cable service. Then I buy a DVD player and start renting or buying movies. Then I get surround-sound speakers and a recliner so I can watch everything in comfort. By then my neighbor has purchased a bigger screen TV, so it’s my turn to upgrade.  Alcorn, Randy

i.        It’s a sick cycle of complexity:

i.  Do you know what the best selling genre of literature in the world is?

1.      Amish Romance Novels.

2.      I can see why!  People want simplicity!

3.      Put your bonnet on, Churn some butter, sing a hymn, and go to bed.

j.        The Realm of worry (Three areas of worry).

i.  Anxiety about the body.

1.      We worry over the length of our lives and the state of our health.

2.      We are a culture obsessed with body image.  Body perfection.

3.      We are worshippers of the body—our own, and others.

4.      We give our time and energy to our bodies!  We serve it like faithful worshiper.

5.      Our body is a temple—not a god.

ii.                        Anxiety about food.

1.      Jesus mentioned anxiety about food.

2.      We worry over what we will eat and drink, over diets and fats and carbohydrates.

3.      Some of this is good.  Because we are surrounded by so much junk and processed oil.  We live in Fast-food nation.

4.      But the opposite is true too!  It’s possible for many people today to obsess over organic.  Losing sleep over anything that might taint the body!

5.      There can be a great deal of anxiety surrounding food.

iii.                      Anxiety about clothes.

1.      Style, fashion, and design are overrated, are frivolous at best in the long-term, and vain at worst.

2.      We worry about being in fashion or out of fashion.

3.      Not that design, and beauty, and clothing are arbitrary.  And I am not suggesting we should take all thought out of it and all wear the same clothes.

4.      But let’s be honest, the opposite is true.

5.      We are concerned with being individuals!  Image.

6.      And so we put more thought into what we look like on the outside while we are laden with dirt on the inside.

7.      That’s the kind of Phariseeism that Jesus rejects!

8.      Not only is it backward, it’s also time-consuming!

9.      And so you are left with a day that is frittered away with the details of body, food, and clothes, with no time for prayer, Bible-reading, or hospitality.

k.      Could it be, that the reason for at least some of the anxiety in the world, is because of the complexity of our lives?

i.  Harvard psychologist and researcher Daniel Gilbert says, “The human is the only animal that ….thinks about the future …. [Human beings] think about the future in a way that no other animal can, does, or ever has, and this simple … ordinary act is the defining feature of our humanity.

ii.                        The average adult spends 12 percent of the day thinking about the future, roughly one of every eight hours. We can imagine events years into the future …. If more than several minutes are involved, no animal can keep up with us.

l.        We think about the future, but WHAT do we think about the future?

i.  Is it a future where God is in control?  On the throne?  Sovereign?

ii.                        Or is it a future where I am in control?

iii.                      Is it possible that part of the reason we worry is because we try to control God instead of trust God?

m.    We live in a day when tranquilizer pills are wildly popular.

i.  One pharmacist I talked to said about half of the prescriptions that come out of his office are tranquilizers.

ii.                        I am not against prescription medication!

iii.                      In her article titled "Listening to Xanax," reporter Lisa Miller chronicles "how Americans learned to stop worrying about worry and pop its pills instead."

iv.                      According to psychologist Robert Leahy's book Anxiety Free, "The average American child today exhibits the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient did in the 1950s."

v.                         As psychologist Robert Leahy puts it, "We live in the Age of Anxiety …. We've become a nation of nervous wrecks."

n.      Could there be a connection between money and anxiety??

i.  Is the realm of anxiety a possible indication of the root of anxiety?

ii.                        Is Jesus on to something when He mentions the body, food, and clothes???

o.      Main Point:  God abundantly takes care of creation, how much more His disciples.

IV.                    The Root of Anxiety (6:30)

a.       What is the root of anxiety?

i.  “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

ii.                        Did you catch that?

iii.                      The root of anxiety is unbelief.  Period.

1.      Anxiety is connected to “little faith.”

2.      It is connected with faith (trust).

iv.                      In other words, the root of our anxiety is that we trust something, or someone more than we trust God.

v.                         In the same way that Mammon and Jesus are two competing Masters, so is Worry and Jesus.

vi.                      You can’t serve God and Money at the same time—it’s impossible.

vii.                    And you can’t Trust God and Worry at the same time—it’s impossible.

viii.                  You will idolize one or the Other.

b.      There is a connection between idolatry and Anxiety.

i.  When we worry, we replace God with a lesser God. An unstable god.  A capricious god.

ii.                        Idolatry is way to understand all sin.

1.      Luther on idolatry:

a.       The Ten Commandments begin with the command to not have any idols.

b.      Why does this come first? 

i.  Because the fundamental motivation for every other sin is idolatry.  We never break the other commands without breaking this one first.

c.       Lying:  why do we lie?  We wouldn’t lie unless we first made something—human approval, reputation, power over others more important and valuable to our hearts than the grace and favor of God.

c.       Identify your idols.

i.  Idolatry is not merely bowing down to a statue or a piece of wood.

ii.                        Definition: “When you look to some created thing to give you what only God can give you that is idolatry.  An idol is anything in your life that is so central to your life that you can’t have a meaningful life if you lose it.” (Keller)

iii.                      How can you identify an idol? (Three ways)

1.      What do you enjoy daydreaming about?

a.       Where are your strongest affections?

b.      Dream home.  Potential relationship.  A man or a woman desiring you?

c.       An idol controls your life, your emotions.  It absorbs your heart and imagination.

2.      What do you spend your money on?

a.       Clothing, children, status symbols like cars and houses boats?

b.      Kent Hughes was a pastor at College Church in Wheaton ILL for many years; he told story of going waterskiing with a friend of his who had a huge, beautiful ski boat.  And on the side of the boat it had the words, “Mat. 6:33”  “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you…”

c.       There has got to be a better verse…

3.      What do you fear?  What are you anxious about?

a.       When you pray for something and don’t get it?  Do you respond with frustration?  Anger, tears, despair?

b.      What devastates you?  What could devastate you?

c.       What about uncontrollable emotions?

i.  Is there something SO important, that if it doesn’t happen or it does happen, it makes you sooo mad, or soo sad?

ii.                        What makes you angry? Anxious?

iii.                      That’s an idol.

d.      Look at your nightmares.

i.  What do you fear the most?

ii.                        What, if you lost it, would make life not worth living?

iv.                      Examples of idols:

1.      Is your idol Mammon?

a.       Greed.

b.      Materialism--Bigger home--Bigger car

c.       Security

d.      Pleasure?

2.      Is your idol:

a.       Beauty—Body Image?

b.      Romantic love.

3.      Is your idol control?

a.       So you micro manage.  When things don’t go your way it’s devastating.  You tend to get really frustrated.

b.      The reason for the frustration is because your idol isn’t doing its job.  It’s a false god, and it’s fake!

c.       You try to control God instead of trust God—and so you are anxious.

4.      Tim Keller tells the story of a woman names Anna.

a.       She desperately wanted to have children, the doctors told her she couldn’t, but she eventually did get two healthy kids.  But here dreams did not come true.  Her overpowering drive to give her children the perfect life made it impossible for her to actually enjoy them.  She became overprotective, fearful, anxious.  Her need to control every detail of her children’s lives made the family miderable.

b.      Her idol was to have to have the perfect family, but it never delivered.  The idol didn’t satisfy.  In fact it actually caused all kinds of emotional issues in her kids.

c.       Anna, who was runining her children’s lives did not “love her children too much,” but rather loved God too little in relationship to them, as a result her kids were crushed under the weight of her expectations.

d.      “If I really knew God’s love—then I could accept less-than-perfect kids and wouldn’t be crushing them.  If God’s love meant more to me than my children, I could love my children less selfishly and more truly

5.      Achievement.

a.       “My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre.  Always pushing me, pushing me.  Because evn though I’m somebody, I still need to prove that I’m somebody.  My struggle has never ended and probably never will.”  Madonna

b.      “Achievement is the alcohol of our time.”  Mary Bell

i.  Parents wanted their kids to be the best.

6.      Influence.

a.       This is a deep sin of evangelicals.

b.      They want the world’s approval.

7.      Health

8.      Popularity.

9.      Family.

10.  Power.

11.  Success.

a.       Successful life

b.      Successful church.

12.  And so we have workaholics, perfectionists, chronic indecisiveness.

13.  These behaviors all stem from our idols.

a.       But these idols never deliver, they never satisfy, they never bring joy.

d.      The root of anxiety comes from unbelief about God.

i.  You are trusting something else, other than God.

V.                       The Remedy of Anxiety (6:30-34).

a.       Don’t be anxious--

i.  “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

b.      The Gentiles seek after these things…

i.  The “idolaters” seek after these things.

ii.                        =the polytheists.

iii.                      The Gentiles give their time and energy and worry about these things…but not you…

1.      Those without God give their time and energy to these things.

2.      Unbelievers worry about these things because they don’t have God.

3.      They don’t have a heavenly father who knows all their needs.

4.      Their practical atheism drove them to take control of their destinies.

5.      God, is the ultimate source of trustworthiness.

6.      God, not money, not and our own right hand, is the Ultimate source of trusthworthiness.

7.      R. Mounce says, “Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.”

iv.                      It makes sense that the Gentiles are anxious.  It makes sense that unbelievers are anxious, but not you!

1.      Anxiety characterized pagan religions, which were dominated by fears of a capricious and despotic deity who constantly had to be appeased. In its modern, irreligious garb, pagan anxiety displays a great preoccupation with physical exercise and diet without a corresponding concern for spiritual growth and nutrition. Verse 32a recalls the logic of 5:47; v. 32b parallels and recalls 6:8b.

c.       You don’t need to be anxious:

i.  The Gentiles obsess over these things.

ii.                        Your heavenly Father knows what you need.

iii.                      “He was asking, “Do you trust your Father or not?”—not with a slap in our face, but with an arm around our shoulder. Jesus was not belittling his disciples; he was encouraging them upward.” Holman

iv.                      Trust and Obey:

1.      There is, in the life of the fourteenth-century German Christian Johann Tauler, a remarkable story that shows something of the attitude Jesus was looking for in his disciples. One day Tauler met a beggar.

a.       ‘God give you a good day, my friend,’ he said.

b.      The beggar answered, ‘I thank God I never had a bad one.’

c.       Then Tauler said, ‘God give you a happy life, my friend.’

d.      ‘I thank God’, said the beggar, ‘that I am never unhappy.’

e.       In amazement Tauler asked, ‘What do you mean?’

f.        ‘Well,’ said the beggar, ‘when it is fine I thank God. When it rains I thank God. When I have plenty I thank God. When I am hungry I thank God. And, since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?’

g.      Tauler looked at the man in astonishment. ‘Who are you?’ he asked.

h.      ‘I am a king,’ said the beggar.

i.        ‘Where, then, is your kingdom?’ asked Tauler.

j.        The beggar replied quietly, ‘In my heart.’

v.                         The spiritual life of the kingdom has come!  It is among us!  The Lord is king!

d.      The Remedy:  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

i.  The remedy is to think about and be preoccupied with the coming Kingdom.

1.      The gospel.

2.      Our number one priority--Seek first His kingdom and Righteousness:

a.       How?

b.      Kingdom—

i.  Seeking first the righteousness of the kingdom implies obedience to all of Jesus’ commands and shows that the thesis of 5:20 continues to be advanced.

ii.                        “and His righteousness”

1.      This does not mean justification.

2.      It is a practical righteousness that is basically a conformity and submission to the will of God.

3.      Such a life could lead to persecution, etc.

4.      It’s a restructuring of our lives.

5.      Example of Nehemiah.

6.      Examples:

a.       The Church

b.      The Church-Plant

c.       Sending

d.      Going.

e.       We are people on mission.

f.        Bible studies at your work place.

iii.                      The results…             

1.      The result of seeking worldly treasure.

2.      The result of having your vision blinded by money.

3.      The result of serving the god of Mammon…is worry and anxiety.

4.      BUT…

5.      The result of seeking treasures in heaven.

6.      The result of having a clear vision of eternity.

7.      The result of rejecting the idol of Mammon and trusting in a better Master…is peace and more simplicity.

8.      “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” George Muller.

9.      Hudson Taylor, missionary to China and founder of what is today known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, gave this excellent advice: "Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into [God's] hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about."

e.       “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

i.  Jesus is saying that tomorrow will have trouble.

ii.                        There is no magic bullet to escape trouble in this world.

iii.                      Don’t naively live like once you get a promotion, you won’t have any trouble, or, once I get married, I won’t have trouble, or once I retire I won’t have trouble.

iv.                      Tomorrow will have cares no matter who much worry about it today.

v.                         AND…it will sap the single-minded enjoyment of Christ TODAY!

vi.                      It’s like filming your kids opening presents and fumbling with the buttons, and completely missing the moment.

f.        Warning:

i.  This does not mean that Christians should not work hard.

1.      We should sleep like a Calvinist and work like an Arminian.

a.       Or, in the words of Augustine, we are to “Work, as though everything depends upon us, and pray, as though everything depends upon God.”

b.      Paul says, “I worked harder than all of you, though not I, but Christ in me.”

2.      This doesn’t mean that food and clothing will appear out of thin air while we sit and watch TV.

3.      We cannot sit back in an armchair, twiddle our thumbs and mutter that ‘my heavenly Father will provide’ while we do nothing.

4.      God uses means.

5.      We have to work. As Paul put it, “If anyone will not work, let him not eat.”

6.      Luther writes: ‘God … wants nothing to do with the lazy, gluttonous bellies who are neither concerned nor busy; they act as if they just had to sit and wait for him to drop a roasted goose into their mouth."

7.      Hudson Taylor learnt this lesson on his first voyage to China in 1853. When a violent storm off the Welsh coast threatened disaster, he felt it would be dishonouring to God to wear a life-belt. So he gave his away. Later, however, he saw his mistake: ‘The use of means ought not to lessen our faith in God, and our faith in God ought not to hinder our using whatever means he has given us for the accomplishment of his own purposes.’

8.      The point Jesus is making is not that his disciples should be lazy and give no care to their needs, like the birds and the grass, but rather that God is abundant in His providential care.

a.       Just look at nature.  God’s cares for His creation.  How much more, His creatures.

ii.                        This passage does not mean that Jesus disciples won’t endure hardship.

1.      This isn’t some kind of Disney “Hakuna Mattata”

2.      We may be free from worry, but not free from trouble, persecution, and hardship.

VI.                    Application:

a.       Replace the idol of anxiety with God.  And while we are at it, let’s replace the idol of materialism and mammon with God as well.

i.  Let the grace and favor of God be more important to you than anything else!!!

ii.                        Sheer willpower doesn’t work.  Simply identifying idols and feeling bad isn’t enough.

iii.                      Our idols need to be replaced.

1.      Remember, these things are most likely not even bad things, they are most likely good things are taking the place of preeminence in your life.

2.      Identifying is part of it. Acknowledging the sin is part of it.  Turning away from those idols are part of it.  But they are not enough.

iv.                      Let the grace and favor of God be more important to you than…

1.      Food

2.      Clothing

3.      Your body

4.      Acceptance from other people.

5.      Having perfect kids.

6.      Having your health.

7.      Having things.

8.      Design and beauty.

9.      Shopping, accumulating, and discarding.

v.                         Let the Words of Christ, and the grace of God, be more important to you than the hurtful thing someone said or did to you last year.

b.      The way out…the answer…the remedy…is turn your gaze upon Jesus…look full in His wonderful face…and let the words, and things of this world grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

c.       You can only have one idol.

i.  It’s either Christ Jesus—which will lead to peace and simplicity.

ii.                        Or it will be Mammon—which will lead to anxiety and complexity.

VII.                The Gospel:

Related Topics: Discipleship, Faith, Finance, Spiritual Life