Transcription details: Audio 07 22 2018.mp3
Input sound file: Audio 07 22 2018.mp3
One of the things that Kim and I have learned the hard way since coming to Kinmundy is that if we’re having some kind of difficulty, if there’s some kind of problem, if we’re arguing with each other, there will come a point in time that, all the sudden, we will stop and we will say, “What’s the sermon about this week?” Because, invariably, God drops something on me the week before Sunday that makes the point for this week. She doesn’t even know what this is because it happened Friday night. Friday afternoon, I left the house and I was on my way to Highland, Illinois for a meeting of the executive committee of the [inaudible] board. Stopped in at the county market in Vandalia, bought a 12-pack of diet soda. I was astonished, it was the only thing they had on sale [laughter]. I drove from there all the way to Highland and we had our meeting, and at about 8:30, I stood up, and it was time to go, and I did what we men always do, I did the pat; phone, keys, pen, wallet. And there was nothing in my back pocket. Has this ever happened to you? There was nothing in my back pocket. Now, I want to tell you that I am thankful that God did not give things like this legs to walk away or to hide, but I knew it wasn’t in my pocket. And God does things to humble creatures.
I told my friends so we walked all over their house, and my good friend actually got down on his hands and knees and reached under the seat of my car, looked all over. I was so embarrassed. And I thought to myself, “What could I have done?” So I’m driving back to the county market because I know I had it at the county market. And all these thoughts are going through my head because I’m making contingency plans, “I need to call the credit card companies. Do I have those phone numbers? I don’t know if I have those phone numbers. How’m I going to get a new driver’s license? How will I prove who I am when everything that proves who I am is in the wallet and I don’t have it? Maybe I’m lucky and somebody will just take the money out of it and throw it in the grass. So I probably ought to walk all around the grass near the parking lot.” And all of the sudden, I remembered this sermon today and I remembered that I do the same thing when I wake up in the middle of the night and I’m worried– my brain starts making all kinds of contingency plans, “Well, he’ll say that, and then I’ll say this, and then he’ll say that, and then the judge will rule that I’m right and he’s wrong.” And your brain makes all these plans when really no plans are needed. So I calmed myself. I reminded myself that I had bought a 12-pack of soda pop. The last time I had it and I did not get out of the car from leaving that grocery store all the way to Highland. So it was probably left at the grocery store. So I called them, “Anybody turned in a lost wallet?” “Nope.” I said, “I went to the restroom. I wonder if it might be there?” “Nobody’s turned it in. We don’t know anything about a lost wallet.” So finally, I got to County Market three-and-a-half hours after I had been there before, walked to the cash register where I bought the soda pop and it wasn’t there. Walked into the restroom and there it sat right on top of the toilet paper dispenser [laughter], just right like that. I opened it up, all the money was still in it. Now, here’s the question, was that a miracle [laughter]? I would like to think so, but I have no awareness of an angel standing at the door of the bathroom trying to keep men from coming in. It just must be that dull of a place, but if you want to see it as a miracle you can. But what occurred to me was that God knew where it was, but I didn’t. And all I had to do was to be patient and then I would find out where it was too, even if it was missing. But there it sat for three-and-a-half hours, and apparently, no one had bothered to be in there during that entire time.
So what you do is you pick it and you say, “Lord, thank you for my wallet.” And you say, “Thank you for the blessing.” Because, see, here’s the thing about what you worry about and what I worry about and what anyone worries about, 99.9% of all the things you worry about will never happen, and therefore it is a total waste of time for you to stay up all night and worry about what you would if they would happen unless you feel that God wants you to make your plans. But I guarantee 99% of the things that scare you to death have never happened because God is watching over me, and He’s not just watching over me, He’s watching over all of us. Now, that doesn’t mean that bad things don’t mean. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad people. And that doesn’t mean that sometimes the things that we’re afraid of do happen. But it means that we can encourage ourselves with hope. It may be raining right now, but I pretty much guarantee you, there is a time when it will stop. God knows when it will stop, and if we’re patient, we’ll see things begin to turn. So I was in trouble Friday night, but God knew how it was going to turn out, and I did not need to worry. I just needed to get back to that grocery store and find out, but worrying would not have helped me a bit. Here’s the scripture; Matthew: 6 25. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life. Just do not. That’s the command. Do not be anxious about your life. What you shall eat, what you shall drink, all those things we worry about, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is thou life more than food and body? More than clothing? This is a command. When you’re tempted to be anxious or worried, Jesus commands, look at nature. Look at the birds in the air. They neither sow, nor reap, nor gather in the barns, yet your heavenly Father provides. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Now, that doesn’t mean that the bird sits in the nest and the pizza guy delivers food. They have to get up and do their part. They have to get up and work. They have to go find it. But God provides. And then Jesus says, “Are you of not more value than they?” Look at nature when you’re tempted to worry and it will remind you that God created a world that is good. Verse 27. And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit– now a cubit is how Noah measured the Ark. It’s the distance between your longest finger and your elbow. That’s why you don’t want five different people working on a project. Which of you, Jesus said, by being anxious can add one cubit or one add-on to its span of life? In fact, if you were, you’ll decrease not just the quality of your life, but the length of your life. Verse 28. And why are you anxious about clothing? Well, most of us are not teenagers now, but you know how teenagers get anxious about clothing. Consider the lilies of the field. Now, that’s a command again. Consider, it means examine. It means observe. Observe nature. The lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil, nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. When you observe nature, it will remind you that God is watching over us. So verse 30. 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 man of little faith? Therefore – verse 31. This is a command – do not be anxious. Do not be anxious saying, “What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear?” Verse 32. For all the non-spiritual people, all the Gentiles, all the people who have never heard of God who have no idea who Jesus Christ is, all of those people, they seek all of these things continuously. Worry about them constantly. But there’s something that you can count on. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. I was [seeking?] and anxious about my wallet, but my elderly father already knew where it was. He knew something I did not know. That happens all the time so, here’s the point. But, seek first. Make a high priority. Seek first His kingdom, the way the world would be if Jesus Christ was king, the way your life would be if Jesus Christ was king. And seek his righteousness, and this word, it means wholeness, and it means repair, and it means fixed the way God would make us whole. Seek that wholeness, that spiritual health. If you seek that, all these things you worry about, that will be yours as well. Now, that’s a promise. And it’s a promise and it’s a wish we can invest our hope. But it’s not the only promise. Jesus goes on to say, verse 34, “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow because tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”
So, let me make a point about anxiety. And to some degree, this point is also true of depression, it is of the non-clinical kind. You have enough to deal with today. What is on your plate today may be all that you can deal with. What makes life difficult is when we pile onto today everything we’re worried about for tomorrow. What makes life difficult is when we pile onto today every failure and fear that we’ve had for the past that we feel bad about. If you could let go of the past and if you can trust God for the future because He knows what we’ve done, most likely you will find that what you have to deal with now, you can do. Because the trouble you have to deal with today is enough for today. And you can trust God that when tomorrow becomes today, He’ll be ready to help you with tomorrow when it is today.
This is not the only place in the Bible where this is talked about. But the main point is to stop making endless contingency plans for what may happen, to turn our anxiety loose, to try to imagine what could go wrong and how we will fix it. Because it’s like putting wood on a fire. It just makes the fire hotter and burn longer. Jeremiah 29:11, if you read the Book of Jeremiah, all the way through the Book of Jeremiah, he is filled with warnings for the people of Jerusalem, warnings that again and again that they’re going to be punished, that they’re going to be attacked, that they’re going to be conquered. But even in the midst of all of these warnings, which are the results of their turning away from God, there comes this 11th verse. “‘I know the plans I have made for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'” If today is a difficult day, God wants to remind you that you have a future and a hope. And here’s my favorite example of this. “Jesus takes the disciple three of them up on top of the hill. And he’s transfigured. And they see him as he is. And as he’s coming downhill, there’s this little trouble down there. The nine disciples at the bottom of the hill, a man has come up and asked them to pray for his son. And their prayers are not answered. So Jesus comes up to see what he can do. And the man is describing a problem. Mark 9:22, it says that this young man’s problem has often cast him into the fire and into the water to destroy him. And then come these words that you see here in red. “But Jesus, If you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” This is a man who’s at his last [inaudible], hanging on for dear life. And here’s what Jesus says to him, “If you can, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the fires of [inaudible] cried out and said, “I believe. Help my disbelief.” That has profoundly changed the way I look at things. Because in the morning, I sit in my prayer chair with my giant mug of coffee. And I remind myself, “Lord, I believe. Help my own belief.” Because what I believe is this. No matter what the situation is today, God knows what I do not. God is strong where I am weak. God is clear wherever I’m confused. God knows how he will help me even if I feel discouraged. And the decision to have belief is the belief that God is not caught by surprise. When a man leaves his wallet in a restaurant, to believe that God knows the diagnosis before you even go to the doctor, to believe that God is greater than what we fear in our anxious [inaudible]. And that’s the prayer I pray every morning when it’s terrible, “I believe. Help my own belief. Lord, help me to adjust the way I see things, to understand that what is happening around me is a part of your plan.” And that helps me with my anxiety because the promise is this: everyone who seeks, finds. Everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who knocks, a door is opened. So if I seek first God’s will, God’s way, God’s kingdom, God’s holiness, and God’s hell. If I sit back first, everything that I would worry about will also be mine, whether it’s a lost wallet or a lost soul, or whatever it might be the concern. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us to look up from our worries. Help us to apply the medicine of hope to our troubles. Help us, Lord, to believe in You. And to believe that we live in a world that You have created such that nothing comes as a surprise to You. But as it says in Romans 8:28, You are already working for the good in every human situation. We ask You to give us that change of mind in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. And here’s a hymn that says exactly that. Let’s stand and sing