It is a joy to be able to come to you this morning in this fashion and to direct your thoughts toward the things of the Lord in a time of trouble, a time a trial, a time of, for some people, a certain amount of danger, and the reality of mortality faces all of us in a time like this; and the place to go is to the Word of God, and that’s what I want to do this morning. To begin with, let me remind you of something that Job’s friend Eliphaz said. He said this – he was right – he said, “Man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” , as surely as sparks off a fire fly upward, man is born for trouble.” Trouble is certain and trouble is relentless. Life is dangerous. In fact, there is nothing more certain than the fact that we’re all going to die. That alone is this certainty of life. In that sense, life is a terminal illness. Life is a fatal condition. Life is a deadly disease.
I remember being on the Larry King Show after 9/11, and Larry King said to me, “What is the lesson here.” I said, “The lesson is everybody’s going to die and you’re not necessarily in control of when.” The danger of death is around us, and what contributes to that death is both around us, and even in us. Everyone dies. A hundred years from now none of us will be around; that’s inevitable. Life is the most comprehensive danger of all; no one escapes its inevitable end.
But sometimes there are things that happen that frighten us beyond the normal sense of impending death. A billion people have died in wars, a billion. Sixty million people a year die; fifteen million of them die from heart disease, ten million of them die from cancer. Fifteen thousand children die every day. Four thousand people die every day from accidents on the highways. Fifty million people died in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918. But the greatest of all holocausts was the Black Death in the 1300s when seventy-five million people died.
A perspective on that might be helpful to us. John Kelly wrote a book in 2006 titled The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time. This is an excerpt from that book in which he describes what people were going through as seventy-five million people were dying, and I’m quoting: “After watching packs of wild dogs paw at the newly dug graves of the plague dead, a part-time tax collector in Sienna wrote, ‘This is the end of the world.’ His contemporaries provided vivid descriptions of what the end of the world looked like, Circa 1348 and 1349. It was corpses packed like lasagna in municipal plague pits, collection carts winding through early morning streets to pick up the previous day’s dead, husbands abandoning dying wives and parents abandoning dying children for fear of contagion, and knots of people crouched over latrines and sewers inhaling the noxious fumes in hopes of inoculating themselves against the plague. It was dusty roads packed with panicked refugees, ghost ships crewed by corpses, and a feral child running wild in a deserted mountain village. For a moment in the middle of the fourteenth century, millions of people across Eurasia began to contemplate the end of civilization, and with is, perhaps, the end of the human race.” One can only imagine the terror that occupied the hearts of the people who were exposed to that.
We can be thankful in the providence of God to be living in a time when that doesn’t happen. And what we face now would be considered in comparison to that a very minor concern. And yet, because you have an entire world of people cut off from any eternal hope, everything becomes fearful to them. For those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ, who have no true hope after death, it’s reasonable to fear, it’s reasonable to be concerned about death and because they face, as we know, divine judgment and eternal punishment.
But what about the family of God? How do we respond to these things? And how can we be the rock and the safe place and the protector and the helper of those around us? How do we respond, and what is our perspective to be? The Word of God is clear on this, so I want to encourage you, first of all, with some things from the Word of God. This is God speaking to us. Let me read you from the Psalms, and I’m just going to read them for you, and you listen and take them to heart.
“The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.”
“Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.” “I sought the Lord and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them. O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”
“The righteous cry, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. But the Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.”
“But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble.” “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”
“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” “My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.’ Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness. I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest.” “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” “Because the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who take refuge in Him.”
Such protection is promised to God’s people; and God repeats it again and again and again. I read from perhaps a dozen psalms where God repeatedly – and those are only samples – declares His commitment to the protection and the care of those who are His, so that they will live out their days as God has ordained. He will protect them to those day which He has ordained so that they can accomplish His will and His purpose. But such protection was promised only to those who were obedient to the Lord.
Back in Leviticus chapter 26, we have some promises that God made. He said, “You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the Lord. If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. Thus you will eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. I shall also grant peace in the land,” and He goes on from there to promise blessing after blessing after blessing. But the most important blessing is in verse 12 of Leviticus 26: “I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” And then He turns in verse 14 of Leviticus 26 and says, “But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up.” And God continues to speak of the curses that will fall on those who disobey Him.
The point of reading that out of Leviticus 26, familiar passage, is to be reminded again that those who belong to the Lord, who are His possession, and who walk in faithfulness to the Lord are protected by the Lord. Those who disobey the Lord have no protector. They have no protector. They are part of the kingdom of darkness; and the head of the kingdom of darkness is Satan himself who is a liar and a murderer, says our Lord Jesus. We all know the history of Israel. We all know that they were sadly disobedient to the Lord, and the curses fell on them, as the Old Testament history tells us.
When we come to the New Testament – and let’s do that now – the Lord is gathering a new people. And I want you to turn to Matthew chapter 6. The Lord is gathering a new people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people for His own possession, and to them He promises blessings, blessings to the faithful. This is the new people, the people that belong to the Lord, and He makes promises to them, and part of the list of promises comes in verses 25 to 34 of Matthew 6. Listen to what our Lord Jesus said.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Three times in that passage Jesus says don’t worry, don’t worry. He actually says, “Don’t worry, stop worrying, and don’t start worrying,” by changing the form of the verb. If you’re worrying, stop. If you’re not yet worrying, don’t start. And just generally, don’t worry, don’t be anxious.
The term has the idea of excessive concern. Don’t be concerned for your life, your life. Why would you worry about your life if you belong to God? When He uses the word “life,” in the original it’s psuchē. It simply means your breath. Don’t be concerned about your temporal life, meaning what you – go back to verse 25 – what you eat, what you drink, what you wear. That’s your temporal life. Don’t be anxious concerning your temporal life and its necessities. You are in the kingdom. You belong to God’s kingdom. You’re a child of God. He will make sure that you have all that you need. Don’t worry about what you will eat, what you will drink, or what you will wear.
For us this is simply a choice of what we will eat out of all the options we have, what we will drink out of all the options we have, what we will wear out of the option of running up and down the closet to make the choice. Very different in the ancient world. Food and drink and clothing often cause deep concern to ancient people. Jesus’ counsel was very relevant to those who perhaps in many cases had nothing but what was on their back and had to wait to the next day to find out if there would be anything to eat. Food was a worrying preoccupation whether you were rich or poor.
In the burning summer heat in the land of Israel, the streams would dry up and water would be a grave concern. Even clothing was by no means automatic. And you even have a situation in Proverbs 31 where the godly woman is making clothes for her children. You had to prepare the food, you had to find the water, you had to make the clothing. This was a life preoccupation, it’s just at a sort of survival level for most people.
But even in that environment where food and drink were not nearly as readily available as they are or anywhere close for us today, our Lord is saying, “Don’t worry about those things.” Don’t worry. And here He gives us three reasons, and I think they’re very helpful – “Don’t worry because of your Father,” – who your Father is – “don’t worry because of your family,” – those to whom you belong – “and don’t worry because of your future.” This is a wonderfully rich portion of Scripture, and we could spend many weeks on it; I decided to kind of condense it for this time this morning. But let’s begin where our Lord begins.
Don’t worry about your life, your temporal life – eating, drinking, clothing – because life is far more than food and the body is far more than clothing. You’ve got to have a bigger picture, you’ve got to get beyond what is physical. You can’t be completely consumed by the reality of deprivation in the physical world or even the treat of such deprivation as we watch people horde; we know that they’re fearful of that. Anxiety, first of all, is absolutely foolish if you belong to the Lord, because you have a heavenly Father.
Look at verses 26 and following: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more, much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!”
Have you forgotten who your Father is? And He’s very specific, our Lord is. This is our Lord talking about food. He points upward, no doubt, to a flock of birds flying by. Palestine is full of birds, Israel is full of birds, always has been. It’s where birds migrate from Europe down into Africa in the winter. A book called All the Birds of the Bible calls Galilee the crossroads of bird migration. They don’t worry, they don’t store up goods for the future.
Job 38:41 says, “God provides for the ravens his food when his young ones cry unto Him.” Psalm 104 says, “So in this great and wide sea wherein are, innumerable both small and great beasts, they wait all upon You, that You may give them their food in due season.” Psalm 145 says, “The eyes of all wait on You, and You give them their food in due season.” Again, it’s talking about the created world of animals. Psalm 147:9, “He gives to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.”
How can these irrational creatures be said to cry unto God? It’s metaphoric, because the natural instinct for them is to desire food. This is kind of a heart cry. I love what A. W. Pink wrote: “Here we may see how the irrational creatures made subject to vanity by the sin of man come nearer to their first estate and better observe the order of nature in their creation than man does; for they seek only for that which God has provided for them, and when they receive it they are content. This solemnly demonstrates that man is more corrupt than other creatures, more vile and base than are the brute beasts.” End quote. What Pink is saying is they are satisfied with what they need, we are not.
It is essential to remember that this is obviously not an excuse for idleness; we aren’t to sit by and let the Lord deliver food to us. The birds fed by God do not sit on a branch waiting for God to deliver it, they use the most amazing and astounding forms of gathering their food. They search for it constantly and continually. They do all the work because God has provided for them what they need; they must work to acquire it.
For us, if God cares for the birds, do we for a moment think He cares less about us? Do we need to fear the future of food? Do we need to stockpile and horde, ignoring the promises of God and forfeiting a kind of carefree heart? If the birds who can’t plan ahead have their needs met by God, will He not meet our needs? That simple reality is the question at the end of verse 26: “Are you not worth much more than they?” And these are arguments from the lessor to the greater: “If God cares for the birds, do you think He’s going to care for you?” Profound and powerful.
Look, life is a gift from God, right? If God gives life, He sustains life. He gives life, He sustains life. As long as He has destined to give it, He will sustain it. And as long as God is the giver of life – and He is, and has given us life – He will sustain that life. You didn’t create yourself, you didn’t plan yourself into the world, you didn’t put yourself where you are; providence in God’s purpose put you exactly where you are. He gave you life in order to sustain that life for His own purposes. And when there is even the most meager threat that something might be lost or you might be deprived, you must remember that God gave you life and the fullness of that life. As you walk in obedience to Him, He will sustain, and that means He will provide all that you need. If God has given me life, He’ll give me the food to sustain that life. So what do I do? I just daily thank Him.
Back in the prayer earlier in chapter 6, verse 11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” That’s all we need to ask for, that’s all we really need. But how do we get that? Luther said, “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 God to drop a roasted goose into their mouth.” God provides, but He provides by giving us power to work and the mind to work. We have a loving Father who cares for us and has made provision for us, and has filled the earth with all good things; and they are accessible to those who are diligent. So we learn our Lord’s first point. No sense in worrying about your food, because the Father who gave you life will give you what you need for that life to be sustained. Say no to self-indulgence, say no to self-security, say no to hording; say yes to God’s provision confidently.
And then He talks also about health in verse 27: “And who of you by being worried can add” – literally it says a cubit to his life – “can add one cubit” – eighteen inches – “to his life?” People are literally almost obsessed in this culture with sustaining life and health. Never has there been a culture so bent on exercise for the sheer fact of exercise alone. It’s not like we’re exercising because we need to be healthy and strong to carve out our existence in a hard world. Everything comes easy to us now. So now we have health for the sake of health, not for the sake of anything else, or health for the sake of pride.
The anxiety of death is also causing people to want to shape up because they fear death. People make incredible investments in the health arena. I never cease to be amazed at how many medicines and natural drugs and concoctions are being offered to people to sustain their health. But by all of it, can you actually add a cubit to your hēlikia? That word probably means span of life, because nobody would add eighteen inches to their height.
Jesus is saying, “You can’t worry yourself into longer life.” In fact, you can worry yourself into shorter life because worry is a sin for a believer. Worry basically says, “I don’t trust God to provide, so I’m going to worry.” You’re not going to worry yourself into a longer life, you’re going to worry yourself into a shorter life. Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. Nobody knows somebody who died really of overwork; many people die of worry. God has given us life, God will sustain that life, we don’t need to worry about that life. We need to be faithful to Him so that it’s a full life as He has planned for us before He takes us to glory.
And then the Lord even talks about clothing in verses 28 to 30, as we read: “Why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they don’t toil nor do they spin.” And when He says the word “observe” we have to take just a moment to do just that, to observe. Our Lord wants us to look at lilies, field lilies no doubt, field lilies that if they could be seen through a microscope would reveal an incredible kind of texture and form and beauty and color that would exceed even the most expensive garments that would belong to the most wealthy man of the ancient world Solomon himself, who in all his glory was not arrayed like one flower in the field.
The Lord has provided the clothing for the flower, it is to say. Beautiful, fragile, put alongside the garments of Solomon. His robes are rags, sackcloth, compared to the beauty of the flower. Take that flower, submit it to the microscope, then take a piece of cloth, any kind of cloth, and submit to the microscope, and you will see the cloth, the cloth is sackcloth when it’s looked at in that fashion. But the petals of the flower are exquisite weaving from God. If God is going to take care of the flowers, don’t you think He’s going to take care of you?
And the flowers don’t live very long; He says, “like the grass of the field, alive today, tomorrow thrown into the furnace.” That’s what they did, they used the dead grass and the dead flowers as fuel in the furnace. You could easily raise the temperature of a fire quickly, it would be a wood fire, but you could throw in some dried grass and dried flowers and it would cause the fire to inflame. “If God was going to care for those things which last for such a brief time, will He not much more clothe you?” verse 30 says. Again, it’s the argument from the lesser to the greater. If God takes care of those things which are so insignificant, will He not take care of you?
The sum of it is clear: God is your Father, and God takes care of those who are His own. The key statement, back in verse 26, “Your heavenly Father, your heavenly Father,” like any faithful father will feed and clothe his beloved children. To doubt that is to express the sin of unbelief, end of verse 30: “You of little faith!” And by the way, the Lord said that a number of times to the disciples. It’s recorded in Matthew chapter 6 here and verse 30, and the parallel passage in Luke 12, “You’re worried about clothes,” according to Luke.
Again, in Matthew 8, He says, “You of little faith,” pointing out their fear of drowning in a storm when He was there. Matthew 14, another expression of Peter’s fear, “and little faith.” Matthew 16, the disciples continually expressing this lack of faith. This went through the whole duration, you might say, of our Lord’s ministry with the disciples. They continually demonstrated the inability to trust God for their lives. It’s a sin to have a lack of faith. Not trusting God is a sin. Understand His love, understand His care, understand His power, understand His abilities, understand His promises.
So it is, first of all, a sin to worry because of our Father, because of our Father. Go down to verse 31. Here’s the second time He says, “Do not worry,” it’s in a different form: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?’ for the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Fathers knows that you need all these things. But first seek His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Secondly, He says don’t worry because – I guess you could call it because of your family. Let’s just use that term: because of your family. You’re not a heathen. The term “Gentile” is the key term. You’re not part of the nations. You’re not Pagan. You’re not a part of the kingdom of darkness, you’re not outsiders. It is needless, it is senseless, it is useless to worry. It is faithless to worry when you’re not a part of those who should worry, because they have rejected their heavenly Father, because they have no hope, they have no promise. They have turned against God and God is their enemy, but not you. “This is what Gentiles” – and the verb is very strong – “eagerly seek.” They live for this.
People outside the kingdom of God live for what they eat, what they drink, and what they wear. The Pagans, the Christless world, those who do not acknowledge God, do not know God as their Father, and have not come to Him to claim His provision and His promise, have reason to worry about their supply. They’re on their own. Now there’s a providential provision. God allows the sun to rise and fall on the just and the unjust, and the rain the same, and God has providentially built into the world common grace by which people’s lives can be sustained. And, mark it, they are sustained by God. It is God who sustains the life of everything that lives, from the smallest insect to the most significant human being. They are all sustained by God in a general sense, by His global providence and common grace. But they can lay no claim to deserving any provision from God by virtue of Him being their Father.
In fact, those who reject the true God have created gods of their own, false gods, and thus they have violated the first commandment and are under judgment. They have no guarantee of their next breath. They have no promise of a protector, no one to care for them. They are outside God’s kingdom, they’re in the kingdom of darkness, they’re in the kingdom of death; they should be afraid.
The phrase of our Lord here is emphatic, and I mentioned it, but let me mention it again. Verse 32, “The Gentiles seek” – you could say – “with all their energy,” totally consumed in material gratification for survival. But how different are we? We are in God’s family, and God assures us of a full supply of everything we need. It is shamefully wicked for a child of God to come down to the level of the heathen who don’t know God. You’re in God’s family.
The people of the world seek these things, and right they should, because they’re their own protectors. They are their own saviors, temporally speaking in a sense. They’re on their own. They need to worry about food. They need to worry about drink. They need to worry about clothing. They need to worry about life. But they have to understand this: to do that, you end up serving money. Go back to chapter 6, verse 24: “You cannot serve two masters; for either you will hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can’t serve God and wealth.”
But the world has made its choice. They will not serve God, they will serve money. Money is the ultimate god; whatever it takes for them to protect themselves, to provide for themselves, they pursue with all their powers. That’s the real reason people chase money, because they have no supernatural protector. One way to say it would be they have no invisible means of support.
We can’t be like the world. Sons of the King do not conduct themselves like the devil’s beggar. So ask yourself, “Do I face life like a Christian, like a member of the family of God, the kingdom of light, or like a Pagan? When things are difficult and a little bit unsure, how do I react, by fear or doubt as if it all depended on me, or do I react with joy and confidence because I know it’s in God’s hands?” It’s one thing to say you’re a child of God, you belong to His kingdom. Hopefully when life turns out to be deadly or terrifyingly fearful, that claim still holds because your trust is evident.
It comes down to how Paul viewed life; and this is the bottom line, I think. In 2 Corinthians 4:18 he said this: “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” While everybody else is looking for the visible means of support because that’s all they have, we’re content to rest in the invisible means of support because verse 32 again repeats the first point: “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
Our Father rules the universe, all the inanimate and animate realities, and He has loaded this planet with amazing wealth, with amazing life. The most powerful thing in the temporal thing is life. I’m constantly amazed at the power of life. Even a virus like this, this living virus, amazing power that you can’t stop; it’s a living thing. It’s like the weeds that grow up in every crack in your driveway. Life is so powerful. God is the source of all of that life.
All worry either assumes that God is not there or that God does not care, or that God is there and does care but can’t do anything about it because He lacks the power. He is either unaware, indifferent, or impotent. But no, verse 32 says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” And verse 33 at the end, “And all these things will be added to you.” He knows, which means He has the full awareness, and He has the power to provide. He knows, He has the full awareness, and He has the power to provide everything you need. God does care; God does know; God does provide.
Worry is a sin. Verse 25, “Don’t worry because of who your Father is.” Verse 31, the second use of that same verb, “Don’t worry because of the family you’re in.” You’re not like the Pagans, heathen, outside the kingdom. And thirdly and finally, verse 34, “Don’t worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Don’t worry because of not only your Father and your family, but don’t worry because of your future. And here it says, “Don’t start worrying about tomorrow.” That’s literally how you would translate that form of the verb merimnaō. Don’t start worrying about tomorrow. Providing for tomorrow, that’s wise; saving, that’s wise. But God is the God of tomorrow just as He is the God of today.
How many times have you sung “Great is Thy Faithfulness”? You probably can’t even recall the number of times you have sung that. But it comes basically from a text in Lamentations chapter 3, written by Jeremiah. Listen to what it says: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.” Verse 23 of Lamentations 3, “They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord’s mercies are new how often? Every morning. Why would you worry about tomorrow when the Lord’s mercies are new every morning?
Worry is a powerful force. It can steal your joy. It can rob you of contentment. It can destroy your testimony with others. It can fill you with anxiety and fear, even panic attacks are related to the kind of anxiety that fear produces and worry produces. There are some people so committed to the sin of worry that there’s nothing in the present to worry, they start looking into the future to find something. The Lord forbids that. Your future is in His hands. Your future is completely His.
Back to verse 34 where we’re looking now: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Don’t push your fears into the future. God will give you strength for every new day, His mercies are new every morning. To anticipate trouble is to double it without the grace to endure it; because you’re not there yet, you don’t have the grace yet. To anticipate trouble is to double it when God will allow it only singly and provide you sufficient grace for it.
Fear is a liar. Fear lies to you. Fear tells you your future is not under control. That’s a lie. Don’t worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. You’ve got enough trouble today; deal with that. God will be there in the future. Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Don’t cripple the present by worrying about the future. You destroy your joy and you lose the present.
So worry is a forbidden sin, incompatible with the fact that God is your Father, you’re a member of His eternal family, and your future is completely cared for. That makes worry stupid as well as sinful. Let the Pagans worry; they have no protector, they have no promise. We’re not spiritual orphans. We’re not out floating around on our own. We’re not spiritually homeless. We have a home, we have a Father. We have all of His resources and all of His riches at His disposal to dispense with us. He loves us and cares for us, He meets every need we have. All He asks out of us is that we love Him and obey Him and serve Him and not worry, because worry declares that we don’t trust Him. Either we don’t trust that He’s aware when He is, we don’t trust that He cares when He does, and we don’t trust that He can do anything to protect us when He can. This is really a sin against the God who loves you.
Backing up to verse 33, we really have the conclusion: “Seek first His kingdom.” There you go. Like the prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.” Seek His kingdom. “Seek His kingdom” – everything that is in reference to Him – “and His righteousness.” Walk in obedience. Walk in righteousness. Seek His kingdom, not the things of the world. Seek to know Him, to love Him more. Seek the things that make up the kingdom. The kingdom of God is joy, peace, power in the Holy Spirit.
“Seek His kingdom, seek His righteousness, and all these things shall be added.” All physical necessities will be added. Everything you need now and everything you need in the present and everything you would ever need in the future, all these things will be added for you. And Scripture says, Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those that love Him.” Long for God’s glory, and He will give you the rest. Obey Him, and He will fill your life with all good things.
That’s the one positive command in this whole passage. Three times a negative command: “Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry.” What sets worry aside, what buries it is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Be concerned about God, His glory, His righteousness. Be concerned about being an obedient believer, trusting believer; and God will pour out heavenly blessing on you.
Over in the tenth chapter of Luke – and this would be a good place maybe to wrap up our thoughts. But in Luke chapter 10, our Lord is in the house of Mary and Martha. It says in verse 38 of Luke 10, “They were traveling along, and He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ The Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha,’ – you never want the Lord to say your name twice, it’s not good – ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’”
“You’re fussing about the food, she’s listening to the word. You’re preoccupied with physical needs, she is consumed with spiritual nourishment. That’s the best part.” Why? “Because man does not live by” – what? – “bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” which originally comes from Deuteronomy 8. So you want the best part? Seek the kingdom. You want to seek the kingdom? Then sit at the feet of Jesus, as verse 39 indicates Mary did, and listen to His word. Fill up on His word, be thankful, be encourage, walk in the path of righteousness, and God will supply everything you ever need. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
This is a time I think for all of us who are believers to rise above the fray and the panic. This is a time for all of us as believers to demonstrate our trust in the Lord. Let’s make sure we give honor to our Father and our family and His promises of our future.
Father, we thank You for Your word; just a helpful, helpful reminder from the lips of our Savior Himself. These are not second-hand promises, these are first-hand promises from the supplier Himself, our Lord Jesus. How thankful we are to hear from Him the affirmation of all that we read in the Psalms about Your promises to supply our needs and to be our dwelling place, our hiding place, our security, our refuge, our strength, our help in time of need. We thank You that You have redeemed us and made us Your true people. And we are the people of promise and we are the people of blessing. We are those who have been made obedient by the work of Your Spirit in our lives, and therefore we are the recipients of all Your heavenly provision, which will sustain us in life physically to live out a full, useful life, and then come into Your presence.
Thank You, Lord, that we have nothing to fear and nothing to worry about, and that for us, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But let it be, Lord, that we live so faithfully that we live out all our days, and You sustain us and give us a full testimony to the watching world of our unending and ever-increasing trust in You. May we demonstrate in these days to those around us our joy, our peace, our calm, our love, based on the fact that we have a God who is faithful, and we rejoice in that, and we pray in the name of Christ. Amen.
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