What’s your mission in life? Is it to make more money and own more things? Wouldn’t you love to stop living for things? And to start really living the way God intended?
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave His followers a new mission to stop living things and to start living for God. We can follow Christ’s new mission to stop living for things and to start living for God.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageAll right, let’s continue our series today entitled, “Making Change.” Over the last three weeks, we’ve been talking about how we can make a change to the way we think about our money and to the way we handle our money and possessions. Today, we’re going to talk about the purpose of money and possessions.
Over the last three weeks, we’ve said, “Get a new mindset.” In other words, think about it in God’s way. “Get a new management;” declare new management so that you manage according to God’s way. Today, we will talk about getting a new mission. How should we visualize the purpose of our possessions and money that God entrusts to us?
Today, we’ll be talking about what your mission is in life. Have you ever thought about that? Why are you here? What’s your purpose? What’s your mission? Is it to make more money and accumulate more stuff or more things?
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Mr and Mrs. Thing. Have you ever heard about Mr. and Mrs Thing? May I tell you the story about Mr. and Mrs. Thing. Mr. and Mrs. Thing are a very pleasant couple. People enjoy being around them. They’re very successful; at least that’s the verdict of most people, who tend to measure success with a “thingamajig.” When you apply the “thingometer,” when you point it towards Mr. and Mrs. thing, the results are very startling. There’s Mr. and Mrs. Thing sitting together on a luxurious and very expensive thing. There are a very, very large number of other things. Things to sit on, things to sit at, things to cook on, things to eat from and all shiny and new things. Things to clean with, things to wash with, things to clean and wash with, things to amuse, things to give pleasure, things to watch, things to play, things for the long, hot summer and things for the short, cold winter. There are things for the big thing in which they live in, things for their garden, things for their deck, things for the kitchen, things for their bedroom, things on four wheels, things on two wheels, things to put on top of the thing with four wheels and things to pull behind the thing with four wheels and things to put inside the thing with four wheels. Things, things, things. In the middle of it all is Mr. and Mrs. Thing, smiling and pleased as punch with all of their things, thinking of more things to add to their things.
Does this story of Mr. and Mrs. Thing sound familiar to you? Is this your missing in life, to be like Mr. and Mrs. Thing? Well, you may feel secure building your castle of things, but that’s not the end of the story. After a while, one thing wears out and ends up in the thing dump, and then another thing becomes outdated, goes out of style and starts collecting dust in the thing attic, while another thing winds up a massive mangled metal because you were looking the wrong way when you should have been looking the other way, and it ends up being towed off to the thing junkyard. You have to keep replacing your old things with new things and keep on repairing your things so that they keep working. You have to keep the door locked on your house full of things because you don’t want a thief to come along and steal your things. Things, things, things. One day you’ll find that none of your things can save you. One day, when you die, they will only put one thing in the box: You. You enter this world without anything and you leave this world with the same things you brought with you. They say, “You can’t take it with you when you die.” The truth is, according to God’s word, you can send it on ahead. “You never see a hearse pulling a U-haul, but you do see saints in glory experiencing the investment of heavenly things.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave His followers a new mission for how they face life with their possessions and things. He says to stop living for things and start living for God. I believe we can follow this new mission, this new way of handling our things.
As we look at the text today, we’ll see two ways we can follow Christ’s new mission, new approach to the way we manage and consider the things He’s entrusted to us and start living for God. Let’s look at Matthew. This is from the Sermon on the Mount in chapter six. Jesus is talking to us about His mission for our stuff. Matthew 6:19-34 (ESV) 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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? 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? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 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? 31 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. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” This is God’s word. Amen.
We’re looking at two ways, can you believe it? Pastor, you couldn’t find a third one? Well, I try to tell you what it says in the text, and I see two stops and two starts. We’re going to be looking at something we need to stop doing and something we need to start doing in terms of the mission that God’s given us for the things he’s entrusted to us. We need to learn how to stop living for “things” and to start living for God.
How to stop living for things and to start living for God: 1. Stop hoarding. Start investing as God’s servant.
If you look at verse 19 and 20, you’ll see the phrase, “Do not lay up,” the first time is stated in the negative. The second time, it’s in the positive; “but lay up.” In fact, if we look at verses 19 through 24, we’ll see two types of treasures and two types of masters. He’s telling us to stop investing towards one and to start investing towards the other.
Let’s “unpack” those first five verses, verses 19 through 24. We will begin by talking about this phrase, “lay up.” This is not a basketball term. It’s not that kind of “lay up.” It means “to store up or invest.” He says, “Don’t lay up treasures on earth.” Let me put up a little chart for you. This is like a little odometer, if you will, in your dash of your life. Here, we have the two treasures: treasures on earth and treasures in Heaven. He says to stop being down in the red on treasures in Heaven. Stop investing your life in treasures on earth. Stop investing your life in treasures on earth and start investing your life in treasures in Heaven.
Here’s what he says about treasures on earth. He says that moths will eat your clothes. Remember back in the day when people used moth balls? Maybe your grandma or your mom had a cedar chest where she kept the things that were special to her. I used to go to houses back in the day where they would have a cedar lined closet. I don’t know why we don’t do that anymore . Maybe we figured out how to handle moths better, or maybe it’s because we don’t keep clothes that long. We just keep replacing them with new ones.
Jesus warns that things will run down. It’s more likely they’ll go out of style in our day and time. He says that things will rust. In other words, your car will lose its “new car smell” very quickly, and other people will get your things. They’ll either steal them or you’ll leave them behind. Somebody else will use them. But He says, the treasures of earth are temporary and they’re undependable. They’ll break down. He says, stop hoarding and stacking up that stuff because it will not produce a good return. He starts there.
Then, He says, if you want to invest your life, if you want to invest your stuff, your money, your possessions and your time, invest it in Heaven where it will never be stolen. It will never run down. It will never rust. It will never get beaten up.
I don’t know if you have ever seen these ads on social media where it says “Five Tips for 2021: (1) Invest in your mutual fund (2) Own gold…. but the things of this world are temporary.
Here’s a sure thing. Can I give you an investment tip right now? Invest in heaven. You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. How do you do that? Well, that’s what we’re going to be talking about. Where are you investing your time, talent and treasure? Where are you investing in your life? Jesus says to invest it in Heaven.
1 Peter 1:4 (NLT) “We have a priceless inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” You can know this for sure. I don’t think you can go online and check. You can go online if you have a mutual fund or something like that, maybe through your employer or somewhere else. You can go online and see how it’s doing; to see if it is going up or down today. We can’t do that but we have this guarantee it will not go down. No other investment guarantees that it will increase, but you must invest in it. It’s the investment in heaven.
How are you doing on this? Are you still hoarding and stacking up things like Mr. and Mrs. Thing or are you thinking about your mission in life to invest what God’s entrusted to you for Heaven and glory?
So, there were two treasures; treasures on earth and treasures in Heaven. He gives a warning in verse 21; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It’s kind of like the warning on the investment; it’s like the surgeon general warns that if you invest in earthly things, it will be harmful to your heart. It will hurt your heart because all of your affection will go there and it will not last. You will continually be discouraged because if your heart is there, then your heart is tuned to the wrong thing it was made for. It’s like a double-edged principle. If you invest in God’s Kingdom, if you invest in Heaven, then your affection will point there.
In a few weeks, we have to switch back to daylight savings time. We have a few more weeks to get ready. In a few weeks, we have to “spring forward.” Wewill all do it; we will all reset our time. It will take us a few days, maybe a few weeks, to adjust, but we’ll all of a sudden be on a new time. The word of God says to set your hearts and your minds on heaven. So, how do you do that? You begin by the way you invest your stuff and the way you think about your stuff, because wherever your treasure is, that’s where your heart is.
If you go to the doctor because you’re having heart problems, he’ll probably, you know, hook you up to a machine and he’ll check your heart rate. He might put you on some kind of thing where you run in place, to check your heart rate. You may have all kinds of electrodes attached to you while you are running. What he’s trying to do is examine the health of your heart.
Here’s what God’s word is saying. Here’s what Jesus is saying. He can d tell you something about your heart just by the way you treat your stuff. He can tell you where your heart is by looking at your affections. Where are your affections? What do you love? So, there’s a warning. If you are hoarding and putting your heart there, that’s where your heart will be stuck. There are two treasures.
In verses 22 and 23, He talks about two eyes. He says, 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” The eyes are like a lamp that lets the light in. If your eyes are bad, you have darkness in your perspective. And so what you need is a good guide.
Pop up my “good eye, bad eye” grid. There are two perspectives. Stop looking at the world through the “things” category because it will cloud your perspective. That’s all you will think about. That will be your perspective on life. Start looking at the world with a heavenly perspective, thinking this is temporary. Who am I serving? What is my mission in life? Is it to accumulate more things or is it to care about people and tell them about Jesus? Which one do you have now, a good eye or a bad eye?
My eye doctor tells me that one of my eyes is better than the other. My left eye’s vision is not as good as my right eye’s vision, he tells me. This has been going on for several years. I wear contacts; my left eye has had a stronger prescription through the years than my right eye until recently. Recently, he says, “You know, as you get older, if you were nearsighted, you also start becoming farsighted.” I don’t know what’s left except for blindness. If you’re nearsighted and farsighted, what’s left? So somewhere in here I can see good without a prescription. The eye doctor says, “You need to go with bi-focal contacts.” I tried it and I didn’t like it, so he said, “Well, I have another option. We can lower the prescription in your left eye so you can read with your left eye and we can keep the strong prescription in your right eye so you can see to drive.” Right now, if I cover my right eye, you guys are a lot of blurry people, but if I do this, Hey, you are back. It took a little while for my brain to make that adjustment as you can imagine. But now it’s instantaneous because my brain has adjusted to the change; it takes a little time to adjust.
Why do we gather like this? We gather to sit under the word of God and get our perspective back because we spend six days out there every week with a wrong perspective being poured into us, which affects our vision and our mission, so you have a heavenly perspective on the way you’re investing your life.
Then, He says there are two masters. In verse 24 he says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” You can’t serve both.
I’ve got one more little odometer. Stop serving money and start serving God. Get out of the red on serving money and start serving God. Money makes a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. It’s not serve money and use God. No. It is serve God and use money. Money is a neutral thing. It depends on how you use it. It’s neutral unless you use it improperly, or if your heart gets entangled with it.
In the book of First Timothy, it says this, 1 Timothy 6:9-10 (ESV) 9 “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
I would say this, that in America, we’ve had a pandemic that’s dangerous to the church; to you, because you’re the church, right? ”The church is not the steeple, it’s the people.” The pandemic has been dangerous for us. You might say, We feel persecuted. I don’t know what your opinion is. We could go through a whole list of things that we might consider dangerous to the people of God. But I would say, in America, the most dangerous thing to the people of God is our prosperity. It’s not the pandemic; it’s prosperity, because prosperity causes heart problems. It causes the heart to love riches more than love God. We have to watch it in America; it’s the most dangerous threat to God’s people. It’s our own prosperity, where we have become idolaters instead of worshiping our Father, Who gave us these blessings. We forget where our blessings come from. We begin to worship the blessing rather than the One who blesses.
How can we keep from worshipping the blessing instead of worshipping the One who blesses? We can invest in heaven. We can get the right perspective. We can get our heart in alignment with the Lord. It starts looking like this; Romans 12: 11,13 (NLT) 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” So, that’s what it will look like. You’ll start working hard for the Lord. You’ll do it with enthusiasm. You’ll be ready to help others. Your life will change so that you begin to see that your mission in life is to be a blessing. God has blessed you; all of the stuff He’s entrusted to you: Your time, talent and treasure is for you to be a blessing to others.
As I’ve said many times, “Live the life of the open hand.” Practice the art of flow; first, open one hand to God. Stop shaking your fist at God and saying, It’s not fair. Open your hand to God and say, God help me. God, entrust things to me, so I will be a river of blessing. Open the other hand. He will meet your needs. But, if you close this hand towards other others and you’ve got one hand up and open, you’ve dammed it up downstream, right? So, He can only trust you with this much. “Live the life of the open hand;” one hand open to God and one hand open to others. Practice the art of flow; let God’s blessing flow to you and through you to others. Stop shaking your fists. Stop closing your hands. Open up your life. Be generous. Trust God. Always be eager to practice hospitality as it says in Romans.
What are some other ways that we can invest in God’s kingdom? One, one is found in 1 Timothy 5:8 (ESV) “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Take care of your family, but don’t “over” take care of them. Meet their needs, but don’t spoil your kids with stuff because all you’re doing is passing your idolatry on to the next generation.
We have just gotten through Christmas. Some young families will come to me, especially when they’ve just had their first child that’s old enough to understand Christmas. They ask for parenting tips. Their child received toys from everybody for Christmas; they got them from you, from their uncles, aunts and from their grandparents. They received lots of toys. What you’ll notice is, with so many toys, they get chaotic. They spread all of their toys out and they don’t know which toy to play with. This , creates anxiety in your child. Why don’t you do a couple things? One idea is to talk to the child and ask them if there are toys that they don’t need anymore. They have new toys and they could bless another little child that doesn’t have toys. This allows your child to be involved in giving those old toys away that they’ve outgrown and letting them be a participant, a partner with you, as you do that. Another idea is to ask them which toy that they want to play with today. Help them learn self control; store the other toys. Let’s just play with this toy today. At an early age, you’ll begin to help them break the problem, the terrible sin temptation of materialism and consumerism. They’ll begin to develop a heart of generosity early on. By the way, if you’ll start teaching them, it might teach you something, too; you’ll see generosity in your kids. Be faithful to take care of your family.
James 1:27 (NLT) “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” In other words, be part of a group of people, be part of a church that takes care of fatherless families; families where there are widows and orphans. You might say, Do we have a lot of these families? We do, but it tends to be not so much caused by death in this generation as it does by another “D” word, divorce. The lowest demographic of poor people, impoverished people in America, are single households, where you have a single mom taking care of her kids. It’s a fatherless household where there’s an absentee father because of whatever reason, but usually divorce. That particular kind of household receives more help from this church than just about any other. I don’t know if you knew that. Let’s be aware that there are those that need our help; this is investing forward because you’re helping to save the next generation .
2 Corinthians 9:12-13 (NLT) 12 “So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. 13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.” This was a passage where Paul was asking the church in Corinth to meet the physical needs in the Church of Jerusalem. He was saying that it will cause the good news, the gospel, to go out if you will be faithful.
So, I just listed a couple of areas here where you are investing in people, investing in your family, investing in those who are in trouble, like widows and orphans and investing in the church. It’s about helping others. If I try to keep it, I lose it, but if I give it away, I send it on ahead.
Learn to live “the life of the open hand,” being generous, and know this, you’ll never run out. You will always have enough for yourself. That’s the question we always worry about, isn’t it? But what about me? Will I have enough for me? God wants to break that fear in you. He wants to say, Trust me, you’ll always have enough. In fact, you’ll have more than you need so that you can bless others if you will trust me.
There’s a popular A &E show, now in its 11th season, called “Hoarders.” Have you ever watched “Hoarders?” Don’t lift your hands because you probably have a problem. You like what? You’re probably the same person who slows down on the interstate when someone has a wreck and you start a traffic jam because you’re “rubbernecking,” saying, There’s an accident. I gotta look at it. And so we watch hoarders because of the same reason; Boy, that’s a mess. I need to look at that a long time. Maybe it’s another reason, because at the end of every episode they clean their house out and so you feel better about that family. Somebody came in and helped him clean their house out. It was reported recently on an episode of one who took note of those that had had their houses cleaned out; he checked on them a year to three years later and found out that their houses looked just like they had when they started.
It was because it wasn’t a “thing” problem. It was a “heart” problem. There was something about the way they felt about stuff that they couldn’t let go of stuff. Their stuff owned them rather than them owning their stuff. What they needed was a different kind of help. Sure, help him clean out their house, but help him clean out the way they think about stuff.
Was more needed? Do you recognize the way that money and possessions can darken your vision and corrupt your heart? Do you recognize the problem that it’s the greatest danger to American Christianity? It’s not persecution; it’s not the pandemic. It’s prosperity; prosperity allows our stuff to own us. Our mission is to invest in eternal things, and the only eternal things are other people.
How can we invest in people, so that we help them see the truth of God, so that they can spend eternity together with us? The first way is to stop hoarding and start investing as God’s servant.
Here’s the second:
2. Stop worrying. Start seeking God’s kingdom.
We are at verse 25 to the end. Look at verse 25. You’ll see that it opens up with a “therefore.” If we see a “therefore,” we always ask, What’s it there for? It’s always like an = sign in the text that tells you that whatever just got said equals what’s getting ready to be said. He’s taught us the principle of eternal investment. Now He says, (paraphrase) Don’t worry, since you are now investing in heaven, stop worrying. You’ve stopped hoarding. Now stop worrying. This is what He’s saying now. Start seeking God’s kingdom. Stop worrying. Start seeking God’s kingdom.
In fact, this “do not” is repeated three times. “Do not” is in verses 25, 31 and 34. Verse 25 says, “Do not be anxious.” Jesus says, “Do not be anxious.” What do we say about the scripture? If it says it once, you should pay attention. If it says it twice, you should underline it. If it says it three times, if you missed it now, you’ve got no excuse.
Stop worrying. Well, you know, my grandmother was a worry wart. My mother was a worry wart. I come from a long line of worry warts. Okay, so you come from a long line of sinners. Stop bragging about it. If Jesus says, don’t do it, it’s a sin . It’s not a bad habit.
Do you know what worry is? One man said, “It’s like Christian atheism.” It’s like we claim to believe one thing, but we behave as if we don’t. It’s the opposite of faith. Take notice in verse 30, that it says, “Oh, ye of little faith.”
What is worry? It’s the opposite of faith. He begins to build a case. “Do not be anxious.” He says that three times. (paraphrase) Stop being troubled with care for the things of life. Stop worrying about food and drink and clothes and mortgages and on and on. He begins to build an argument.
The first argument He gives us is found in verse 26. He talks about the birds. (paraphrase) Hey, look at the birds. This is what’s called an argument from lesser to greater. In terms of their value, they’re little in value in comparison to how much God values you, because He made you in His own image. He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross for you. He was raised from the grave. That’s how much He values you. How much does He value you? (spreading out arms) This much. How much does He love you? (spreading out arms) This much.
He says, (paraphrase) Look at the birds. They don’t go to work. They don’t worry. They go out every day and get a worm. Okay, they go out and get fed. God has put that into place for them. Go fly; there’s stuff built into the creation to feed you. I’ve never seen a bird standing on one leg on a limb,scratching this little head with the other claw, with this worried look on its little face. I’ve never seen a bird do that. No, birds sing. They’re out doing their bird job.
Jesus says that birds don’t worry and God feeds them. It’s the argument from lesser to greater. Why are you worried?
Then, he says that not only do you need to stop worrying, because God will take care of you, but it’s worthless. What does it accomplish? He says in verse 27, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” In other words, worry accomplishes nothing. It’s a wasted activity. It’s not work. It’s not prayer. It’s you talking to yourself, What are we going to do, self? I don’t know, I don’t know, but let’s lose sleep over it. Let’s make ourselves sick worried about it. It’s a waste of activity. It doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t accomplish anything.
He’s not finished. He says, “Consider the lilies.” We looked at the birds, now look at the lilies. He switched from food to clothing. He says, (paraphrase) Look at those lilies, how beautiful they are and how they clothe that grassy field. No one plants them. They just pop up. Look how God clothes that grassy field. It’s arrayed with more splendor than Solomon, the wealthiest man who ever lived. Look at that and look how temporary they are. They die in a moment and then they’re just cleaned up by the farmer and thrown in the fire. How much more will He clothe you? This is another argument from lesser to greater, because He cares about beauty and He even cares about how a field looks. “Oh, you of little faith.”
Do you know what worry is? Craig L. Blomberg says, “Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.” Stop worrying and start seeking. Jesus says, “Do not worry. Do not worry. Do not worry.” He says it three times, but we have to get all the way down to verse 33 to find what He tells you to do .
Do this. 33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Seek Him. Look for Him and all these things, what things? Everything you need will be added to you. If you’ll align your priorities and your mission on Him, focus on Him, aim at Him, all these things will be added to you.
He’s not up in heaven shaking a fist at you and looking for a minute for you to mess up so He can crush you. No, He loves you. He has blessed you and wants to bless you more if you would only recognize the path to blessing. It’s not hoarding. It’s not worrying. It’s seeking the kingdom and living with generosity. It’s living with an open hand. “It will be added to you,” He says.
Then, He goes on to say, in verse 34, 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Do not be anxious about tomorrow. It’s not even here yet. Yeah, but what about now that we have a new president? What will the stock market be doing? What will the job market be doing? What will the interest rates be doing? What? Okay, are you solving anything thinking about all of that?
Has Jesus left the throne? No. He said, in Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV and NRSV) “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” That’s what He told the church to do. Does He say anything about worry? No. He said, “Go and make disciples.” That’s our mission; that’s why we exist.
Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18 (NIV), “ And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” We’re unstoppable because of Him and the mission He has called us to .
Jesus says, in Matthew 6:33 (KJV) “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Stop worrying about today; He will handle your daily needs. Stop worrying about tomorrow because I’m already there and I’ll take care of that, too. So, stop worrying everywhere. Stop worrying about your yesterdays and your todays and your tomorrows. Seek His face. Seek what He has to say about things. We need this today, don’t we? We especially need it today. Stop worrying. Start seeking.
In the Book of Philippians (and this should be a memory verse for every Christian), Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Stop worrying. Start praying. Don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and your minds; that’s your heart and your perspective as you live in Christ Jesus.
What is worry, anyway? It’s a lack of faith. We know it’s a wasted activity, but if you define it, what is it? It’s you talking to you. It takes X amount of energy to do that. In fact, you get so energetic you’ll stay up at night doing it. You’ll be wringing your hands. It will affect your whole body. You’ll wear yourself out worrying, but the whole time, who are you talking to? You are talking to yourself. So, if you take that same amount of energy, as Paul writes to the Church of Philippi, stop turning it inward and start turning it upward. It’s the same amount of energy and same amount of talk, except your talk is going up instead.
Turn your worries into prayers. Are you worried about something? Pray about it, then leave it there. Pray yourself empty and then, pray yourself full. You can’t pray yourself full until you pray yourself empty . You can’t pour something into a full glass. If you’re full of worry, you’ll not be full of faith. Pray your worries out and pray your faith in.
Are you worried about something? Name it. Say it to the Lord and say, Lord, I don’t want to worry about this anymore. I’m giving it to You. You’re the sovereign God. You made me. You’ve blessed me. Pray yourself empty. Now, if you haven’t done it in a while, it might take you a while because it’s kind of collected. If you do it regularly and keep short accounts, it won’t take as long. Then, pray yourself full and go out encouraged, full of joy and peace that passes all understanding.
Come on, church. We need to be full of joy, not beat up and beat down. I know the world has too much input from the news. Too much, 24/7 news. Too much social media. Too much of the bad I perspective, the world’s perspective on things.
Let’s get our eyes open. Let’s put our hearts and affection on Jesus. Let’s begin to think about who we are. We are the church; we are 29 years old now. WCC is 29 years old now and our baby church, our sister church in Rocky Mount, is five years old now and growing. We want to have more churches planted out of this church. We’re not quitting. I know you’re sitting there, looking around, thinking, Where’s everybody? I hear this occasionally. I hear somebody say, Where is everybody? A lot of you are watching at home. We’re going to be calling a lot of you in the coming days and checking on you, saying, How can we serve you? How are you feeling? Here’s what I’m noticing. We had 10 or 12 guests at our first service today. First service was triple the size of this service (second service) today . I don’t know how you all figure this out, if you all have a meeting during the week and decide one is going to first service and the other second service. But, guests don’t usually come to first service; today, we had 10 or 12 guests for the first time this morning. What’s gonna happen? Covid is going to end. People at home are going to come back. How do I know? You’re contacting us, you’re still faithfully attending online and online with your small groups and you’re still giving. We are making room for you; there’s going to be more room. We’re not going to give up. We’re going to stay full of joy . We’re the church and God is doing great things through us.
In Psalm 37:25 (ESV), it says this, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” I’ve been young; we planted this church when I was 32 years old. I didn’t know how to plant a church. I didn’t know what I was doing. I quit my job, went to seminary and started planting this church. We went 14 months with zero income. I spent everything I had saved; my 401 k turned into a 000 k. I spent it out. We started the church. I tried to sell my house because the bank wanted it back. We were six months in the rears on our mortgage payments. We got listed in the newspaper because we didn’t pay her property tax that year. That’s who your pastor started out being. My name and address was in the newspaper the first year of the church because we spent everything we had. I told God, God, if I lose everything I have, I’m not going to quit what I’ve been doing. I will do what You called me to do. I kind of thought if I told Him that, He wouldn’t actually do it, but He almost did. He tested my heart with things. He tested to see if things had my heart or He had my heart. We still live in that same little house. We caught up and the church started growing. I don’t think I would have the right to talk to you if I just had book learning. I had to have real testing to qualify. He’s qualifying you, too.
Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry . “I’ve been young and I’ve been old and I’ve never seen God’s children begging for bread.” Come on, church, get happy. Get excited. There’s a lot of hurting people out there and they’re gonna start showing up. We need to get healed up and ready for them so we can help them. Let’s “live the life of the open hand.” Stop worrying. Stop stacking it up. Go back to your houses and clean those houses out. Clean out those closets, garages and attics. Simplify your life so you can be more aerodynamic as you move through life. Stop letting things anchor you and slow you down on God’s mission.
Let’s pray. Lord, we don’t want to be like Mr. Mrs. Thing. Lord, we want to be like Jesus. If there’s someone watching online or someone sitting in this audience this morning, I want to challenge you right now. If you’ve never given your life to Jesus, would you do it right now? Would you make Him the master of your life? That’s really the key to help you get His heart, His vision and His mission for your life. You can do it right where you are. Pray with me, Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner and I need help. I believe You died on the cross for me. I believe You died and that You were raised on the third day and that You live today. Come and live in me and make me the person You want me to be. I want to be like you, Lord Jesus. I give You my life and all that I have is Yours. I make You my master and my Lord and my Savior. Come into my life and forgive me of my sins and make me what You’d have me be. If you’re praying that prayer right now, believing, He will save you and you’ll become a child of God. Others are here and you know, Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but you’ve been worrying. Would you confess it to Him right now? Would you name what you’re worrying about to Him and say, Lord, I can’t carry this anymore. I give it to You and leave it at the cross. Leave it with Jesus. Oh, He loves you. He loves us so much. Lord Jesus, thank you, that we can bring all of our cares to You because You care for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.