Facing Uncertain Times With David Jeremiah: Covidian Worry

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over these past couple of weeks we’ve gotten emails and messages from all over the world and as some of them are just so exciting we’ve heard from Germany and Romania and France and lots of places where we would not know that we would have any kind of an impact I want to tell you about one email that that we got this week from a lady in Ohio and I don’t want to give away her identity except to say that in her email she said that she and her family had been praying for her husband for a number of years and at the end of the the sermon on coronavirus when I gave the invitation he prayed and received Jesus Christ and his life was transformed and she was so happy and I know that that has happened not just in one situation but in many and it leads me to tell you that the most important thing you can do if you haven’t done it already is to invite Jesus Christ into your life I can’t imagine going through times like this without a relationship with Jesus Christ as I mentioned in my prayer he’s not only our Savior and Lord he’s our friend and counsellor and helper and he never leaves us he never walks away from us no matter what we’re going through so if you do not know him if you’re participating in this service and you don’t know Jesus Christ in a personal way at the end of my message I’m gonna give you an opportunity to make a decision to put your trust in him and I hope you will do it if you were to google coronavirus and worry sometime this week you would have seen more than 500 million hits 500 million people who googled those two things and if you were to search coronavirus and anxiety the number is more than 1 billion so put the two together worry and anxiety 1.5 billion people have had Google that to see if they can find out how you deal with the anxiety that they’re feeling during the past few months we’ve learned a lot about physical contagion the spreading of a virus from one person to another but accompanying this has been another type of contagion it’s called social contagion judson a brewer an associate professor at Brown University explains it this way in psychology the spread of emotion from one person to another is aptly termed social contagion our own anxiety can be cured or triggered simply by talking to someone else who is anxious they’re fearful words are like a sneeze landing directly on our brain and sending it out of control as it worries about everything from whether our family members will get sick or how our jobs will be affected this week Time magazine ran an article entitled the corona virus pandemic may be causing an anxiety pandemic in it journalist Jeffery Kluger wrote that the physical corona virus pandemic continues to spread an emotional pandemic is following fast in its wake when the whole world is going to pieces it’s awfully hard for the human mind a fragile thing in the best of times to cope and more and more doctors are reporting the spread of despair and worry and depression among their patients especially those already suffering from some form of anxiety disorder so what is anxiety what is worry worry according to Webster is that which causes us to feel troubled or uneasy distressed or anxious or apprehensive when we worry we are apprehensive over what might happen someone has said worry is faith in the negative trust in the unpleasant assurance of disaster belief and defeat worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles the New Testament word for worry is translated to take thought or be careful the word worry comes from a Greek word which is merimna Oh which is a combination of two words which means to divide to have a divided mind to worry is to have a divided mind that’s why James says in James 1:8 that a divided mind is unstable in all of its ways but worry itself is always concern over the future worry is concerned about something that we can do nothing about and that we cannot even be sure about one who worries looks off into the future but the problem with the person who does that is twofold first of all the future is not here and secondly the future is not his there is nothing to lay a hand on there is nothing that can be done and so the anxious warrior cannot control it he does not even know what it will look like no one but God knows its true shape and so in this pandemic that we’re facing today it’s just really easy especially when we’re sequestered in our homes and we don’t have the normal schedule and routine and we’re left to sit and think a lot if we’re not careful we allow what’s happening to play out to the worst possible scenario and all of a sudden we’re filled with anxiety jesus warned Martha against such double mindedness he said in Luke 10 and jesus answered and said to her Martha Martha you are worried and troubled about many things but one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her someone has said that worry is a spiritual fever that works havoc with the character and service of the child of God the one place in the Bible where we can learn about worry from Jesus himself is in the book of Matthew chapter 6 in that section of Scripture called the Sermon on the Mount now if you’re going to talk about anxiety as a pastor and you know the New Testament you know there are two central passages one of them is in the book of Philippians where Paul speaks about worry and one of them’s here in Matthew where Jesus speaks about worry I think we should have Jesus words about worry in our message and here’s what we learn in this passage in Matthew chapter 6 Jesus says three times do not worry I’m gonna put them up on the screen so you can see them for yourself Matthew 6:25 do not worry about your life what you will eat or what you will drink or about your body what you will put on verse 31 do not worry saying what shall we eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear verse 34 do not worry about tomorrow if you’d like to have the teaching of Jesus on the subject of worry summarized in two words here it is don’t worry that’s Jesus message to us don’t worry don’t let tomorrow’s possible problems tear you apart today now before understanding why Jesus can say such a thing it might be helpful to know what Jesus is not saying oftentimes it’s important to let people know what what a person is saying but the only way you can do that is help them understand what he’s not saying here’s a couple of things Jesus is not saying Jesus is not telling us to forego all planning that we should not worry about the future I mean after all he spent 40 days in the wilderness thinking through the ministry that he was going to perform he planned ahead for the Last Supper he planned for his disciples to continue his mission he advised us to count the cost in advance of decision so what we say do not worry that doesn’t mean do not plan I know some people are pretty carefree and they take that phrase that says take no thought for tomorrow and that’s their watchword for life they just kind of float through life willy-nilly that’s not the Bible way when Jesus says do not worry he’s not telling us do not plan and secondly he’s not telling us that we can live without any concerns when Jesus says do not worry he has not told us that we should never be concerned about anything like if one of our children is running out in the street we should be concerned about but there’s a difference between concern and worry it is the difference between a legitimate emotion and a violation of God’s clear instruction the Bible says that when we worry we violate our trust in God worry tears us apart and keeps us from solutions concern helps us to focus on a problem gives us energy to resolve it worry tends to be future-oriented and concern usually deals with the present should we be concerned about what’s happening today in our culture in our families in our culture in our churches absolutely but we shouldn’t worry about it we should be concerned about it we should take whatever steps we can take like we said in a previous message to do the next thing make it better every day we should get up and say Lord God how can I make this really difficult situation better we should be concerned about it but that’s a whole different emotion than worrying a worried person sees a problem and a concerned person solves a problem that’s the difference that we need to make sure we understand here’s what you must understand you don’t need to worry about being concerned but you need to be concerned about worrying write that one down and think about that over these next few days researcher Lucas la frontiere a PhD said this is what breaks my heart about worry it makes you miserable in the present moment to try and prevent misery in the future for chronic worriers this process leads them to be continually distressed all their lives in order to avoid later events that never happen worry sucks the joy out of the here and now and his study on worry participants were asked to record their worries and how they cause distress and interfered with their lives each night at 10 p.m.

 

They reported how much time they spent thinking on each specific worry throughout the day then 20 days after that period they reviewed each entry and reported whether any of the words had become true and the good news is La fiere study found that in his survey of worrisome people 91.4% of there were it’s never actually happened so if you cannot help worrying remember that worrying can’t help you either in Matthew 6:25 232 Jesus is going to help us understand why we should not worry and then he’s going to give us a couple of principles that will help us deal with it if that’s one of our struggles I know that we might not ever get totally beyond this but if we can take the edge off of your anxiety and your worry through this message in this service it will be a blessing to all of us in verses 33 through 34 Jesus gives us everything we need to know to overcome our anxieties so we began with understanding worry here are five things Jesus wants us to know number one worry is inconsistent worry is inconsistent Matthew 6:25 therefore I say to you these are Jesus words do not worry 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 now if you like if you take this argument at face value what you understand is it’s an argument from the greater to the lesser listen carefully you who worry about the necessities of life like food and clothing the one upon whom you are depending is the one who has given you your very life if he has created your life do you not think he can be could care for the simple things that adorn your life that’s the argument Jesus he’s saying I gave you your life don’t you think I can handle the issues that come into your life in other words if God has the power to create these marvelous organisms we call our bodies does it not make sense is it not logical that he can provide some clothes to put on these bodies some food to put in these bodies and some shelter to but over these bodies cannot the one who has done the greater also do the lesser the point is that God would not have given us life and created our bodies without also seeing to provision of those things that are necessary to sustain us if you believe in a creator god you must also believe in a sustainer God or you’re inconsistent you can’t be consistent and say thank you God for giving me my life now I don’t know how I’m gonna make it through these next few weeks because I don’t know if we’re gonna have enough food I don’t know no wait a minute if God gave you your life then you know that God is capable of giving you whatever you need for your life so worries inconsistent here’s the second thing we that Jesus tells us about worry worries irrational fears verse 26 of Matthew 6 jesus said look at the birds of the air for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns yet your heavenly Father feeds them are you not of more value than they are the Lord’s argument here is not that we are going to cease our sowing and reaping and gathering but that if he takes care of those who cannot do these things like the birds much more will he take care of those who can in other words it is not that we are to take no thought for tomorrow but to take thought of tomorrow without being filled with anxiety so if you if you bought into the logic of the first point that the greater to the lesser you might be thinking like this well yeah I know God can take care of me I mean he’s able to take care of me I believe that but but here’s my question will he take care of me I know he can but will he and the answer to that question is found in verse 26 if verse 25 is an argument from the greater to the lesser then verse 26 is the argument from the lesser to the greater even if I believe that God can do the greater and the lesser how can I have confidence that he will do this for me here’s the argument God takes care of the birds he watches over them he provides for them in the ecosystem of the world as we know it God sustains the birds and then we read in Matthew chapter 10 are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin and not one of them falls to the ground apart from your father’s will do not fear therefore you are of more value than many sparrows Jesus is saying if I care for the sparrows don’t you think I’m gonna care for you Luke 12 6 says are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins and not one of them has forgotten before God here’s a little insight into that verse that I find very fascinating a copper coin was the Jewish measurement known as the Assyrian and an Assyrian was worth one sixteenth of a Denarius now a Denarius was a day’s wages in the time of jesus so a copper coin was one sixteenth of a day’s wages so you could get two sparrows for one copper coin and if you bought four sparrows they would throw the fifth one in for free so five instead of four and the point that Jesus is making is that not one of them is forgotten by God not even the one that was thrown in for free and if God is going to do that for the birds of the air and the sparrows of the ecosystem do you not believe that he will care for you as well do you not believe that God cares enough about you that he’s going to be there for you and help you in every situation so worried is inconsistent and worried is irrational and it’s ineffective it doesn’t work Matthew 6:27 says which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature now there are two possible ways to look at this one of them may be just exactly as it sounds how many of you can worry yourself into being taller than you already are I mean if that were possible I’d probably be about seven feet now because I always wanted to be real tall so I could be a professional basketball player but I never did get more than six – and I’m not even six – anymore because I got married and settle down I’m only 6 1 now but can you get this Jesus said how many of you can worry yourself into being taller than you are of course the answer is nobody can do that it’s as futile to worry about getting to be taller than you are as it is to worry about the future is it possible to gain a cubit in Heights by worrying of course not so why worry about the future but many New Testament scholars believe that Jesus was not talking about stature but rather about the length of days so in this case the argument would sound like this which of you by worrying can add one day or one minute to your life and the answer is no one can do that no one no one can add a moment to his life by worrying that’s not possible but the question has been worded which of you can subtract if we ask that then you could answer that very positively because I know and you know people who have subtracted from their life because of their worry Bruce Dunn once wrote there are undoubtedly graves all over America were lie the sleeping bodies of truly believing people who cheated God out of 10 maybe 15 or more years of life because they worried themselves into their graves ahead of time which of you by being anxious can add nobody which of you by being anxious can subtract everybody just make sure you don’t allow the enemy to so so much anxiety in your life that it keeps you from doing what God has called you to do so worried is inconsistent worry is irrational it’s ineffective and it’s illogical watch this verses 28 to 30 so why do you worry about clothing consider the lilies of the field how they grow may neither toil nor spin and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these now if God so clothes the grass of the field which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven will he not much more clothe you oh you of little faith once again Jesus points to his environment and uses as an illustration he points to the lilies of the field and he says they don’t toil they don’t spin but God closed them in such beauty that they outshine the glory of the kingly robes of the king if the flowers of the field which quickly wither and die and have no eternal quality and are so adequately cared for do we need ever to doubt that the father in heaven will also care for us in everything that we need to make it in this world if God takes such good care of the beauty of the flowers of the field men and women which have a very short lifespan does it not make sense that he will care for you because your eternal he says that his care of the flowers of the field is greater than the splendour of Solomon and his glory God cares about us that much so worried is inconsistent it’s irrational it’s ineffective it’s illogical it’s irresponsible in verses 31 and 32 here’s what we read therefore do not worry saying what shall we eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear for after all these things the Gentiles seek for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things now listen carefully when you’re tempted to worry you need to stop and ask this question who am i anyway am i a child of God or am I an unbeliever when Jesus uses the word Gentile here he’s referring to the people who do not know God another translation is the word pagan in other words when you worry about the things that might happen to you you’re functioning like someone who doesn’t have a family or a father you’re acting like an orphan but you have a father and your father loves you and he will care for you and he knows that you have needs and he plans to fulfill them and instead of worrying about your needs ask the Heavenly Father Father in heaven give us what we need the point that Jesus is making is if we function and anxiety rules our life we may be true followers of Jesus but the outward testimony of our life is that we don’t know God because the more pressure that we find in our lives during times like this if you are walking with the Lord that pressure will drive you toward the Lord if you’re not walking with the Lord it will drive you away from him so if you’re being driven away from the Lord it didn’t start with the coronavirus it started before that time the issue is are you going to come back and use this opportunity to get things right between you and the Lord well that’s what Jesus had to say about worry but at the end of the passage where he tells us why worry doesn’t work he gives us two keys that will help us as we try to deal with anxiety especially at a time like this the first key is this number one commits your life totally to Jesus Christ that’s the longview notice verse six chapter 6 verse 33 but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you notice seek first the kingdom of God instead of worrying about food and drink and sickness and dress Jesus commands us to seek first the kingdom of God Hudson Taylor gives us this word of advice let us commit our work our plans ourselves our lives our loved ones our influence right into God’s hand and then when we have given over everything to him there’ll be nothing left for us to worry about if you give it all to God if you put him in the center then one of the interesting observations about this central passage on worrying especially for right now is it comes right after a long discussion about money and material things and I know a lot of people are really worried about what’s happened with the economy and we’ve been through a few things like this before in recent years where people talk about their 401k it’s not around anymore or it disappeared and we worry about money it’s interesting to me that this passage about worry is connected to material things because the thing that causes most of us stress I would I would daresay there’s way more stress in our culture today about the economic problem than there is about the coronavirus problem and what we need to understand is that whenever we place too much faith in the material things of this world and not enough faith in Christ we will begin to worry about survival and many other things that’s why Jesus said no one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be loyal to the one and despise the other you cannot serve God and Mammon so here’s what I’d like to ask you at this particular point in this message have you committed your life totally to Jesus Christ if you’ve been if you’re a Christian and you found yourself totally filled with anxiety during these days why don’t you just take some time and get before the Lord and say Lord I’m not doing really well with all this stuff right now and I want you to know I’m gonna commit myself all my worries all the stuff that’s on my mind I’m gonna commit it to you I’m gonna give it to you and I’m gonna ask you to show yourself strong in my behalf commit your life totally to Jesus Christ that’s kind of the long view here’s a short view concentrate your energies on living one day at a time listen to what it says in verse 34 therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own things sufficient for the day is its own trouble and I know there’s not anybody here for me to hear from but I would always say can I get a witness when I got to this place because all of us know that every day has its own set of issues every day has its own problems that we have to deal with and every day that we start over is a new day when new problems and new challenges that’s just the way life is and isn’t interesting that God divided our lives up in two days so that we wouldn’t have this long uninterrupted space but every day is an opportunity for us to deal with the issues of life John Stott said it this way he said one day’s trouble is enough for one day or each day has enough trouble of its own so why anticipate them if we do we double them for if our fear does not materialize we have worried once for nothing and if it does materialize we have worried twice instead of once in both cases it’s foolish worry just doubles the trouble you have all of the agony of worrying now that something’s going to happen and it may not happen so you’ve worried for nothing like we said before 90% of the things people worry about don’t happen but if you worry about it and something does happen now you got to worry about it again so now you’ve worried about the same thing twice and that doesn’t make any sense there is a powerful verse of scripture and if you don’t get anything else from what I’ve said in this message I hope you’ll get this one this verse has helped me a great deal in my life and I believe it will help you as well it’s found in Deuteronomy 33 25 here’s what it says as your days so shall your strength be that is a promise from God God says for every day I will give you enough strength for that day this is a muscular reminder to us that each day has its own needs and its own supply sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof in other words each day has a burden that belongs to that particular day don’t borrow tomorrow’s burden before tomorrow worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow worry empties today of its strength so why would you do that why would you allow that to happen so Jesus is telling us to take each day as it comes and give our attention to what God is doing right now you know one of the things we’re hearing from our psychologists who are trying to figure out how to deal with all of this stress that everybody’s feeling right now is that we’re tempted if we’re not careful to get up in the morning stay in our pajamas all day watch TV kind of hang around and not have any schedule and what they’re telling us is you need to put a schedule together for your day what am I going to do today what are my goals for today how can I accomplish what God wants me to do everybody needs to do that what you’re doing is you’re taking this however long it is and you’re putting it into day tight compartments and then you just deal with that day and when that day is over you pillow your head and then you’ll get up the next day and deal with that day one day at a time if you do that you will discover that God’s grace is sufficient for each day but he’s not promised us grace until the coronavirus is over he hasn’t promised that to us at all he’s promised to us grace for every day and years ago in an article in the Denver seminary magazine focal point Paul Borden gave some helpful suggestions for warriors I think this might be worth just the whole thing that we have done in this message he said write down what you’re worried about the bills your job the sickness the children the grandchildren your health the future now you got your worry list now turn your worry list into a prayer list ask the Lord to work in every one of those situations you’re concerned about pray specifically for your needs and depend on him I say this and it sounds almost like this is too simple but over the years I have had the opportunity to have people come and ask me if I would pray for them and a certain thing they’re going through and and I’ve often asked them have you told the Lord about this and they look at me like I’m a stranger and I’ve said well why would you come and ask me about it if you haven’t asked him about it it’s interesting for all of you who are sharing in this service online what are your worries maybe you could write down your top five let me ask you this question have you asked God about every one of those have you laid those out before him and said here are my thing here’s my concerns here’s my anxiety well this man said you take your worried list and you turn it into a prayer list and then after you take your prayer list you turn it into an action list because most of us know that God usually answers our prayers through us he does something that changes what we do if you turn your prayer list to an action list you will have insight that there’s something you can do about some of your cares and as we turn our worries into prayer and action we will paralyze anxiety and replace it with the responsibilities of life an exasperated husband asked his wife why are you always worrying when it doesn’t do any good she quickly piped back oh yes it does 90% of the things I worry about never happened that’s the way a lot of people look at worry but God has a better plan if we’re inclined to worry we can turn that worry over to the Lord we can understand that he’s never too weary or too tired to pay attention to us he has all wisdom and all power and he loves to use it in our behalf and the Holy One who directs the Stars has his loving arms around us even at a time like this if you want to have a great adventure my friend I would encourage you to start a little journal during the coronavirus and see what God does enter into your journal all the things you’re worried about make sure you pray about them and keep track of how God in His incredible power moves into your life and undertakes for you and your family and the ones you love it won’t be perfect God hasn’t promised us that he’s going to give us everything that we want but he has promised us the things that we need and you know when we go through a crisis like this if we’re not careful we all become activists and we’re out doing this and we’re going to do that get grocery for somebody and all that if you’re not careful God gets pushed to the sidelines and at a time like this he needs to be deadness center and we need to confront our issues before him and ask for wisdom from him so that we can live in peace in the midst of a world of anxiety I mentioned to you at the beginning that if you didn’t know Jesus Christ that’s where it all starts you can’t have this peace that comes through Jesus if you don’t have Jesus so I want to ask you have you ever trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior has there ever been a time in your life when by prayer you admitted that you were a sinner and asked for God’s forgiveness and accepted him as your Lord I want to ask you to do that right now we’re gonna pray this prayer as we end this service and I want you to pray in your heart father for all those who have gathered here in this great coast-to-coast auditorium we pray and especially for those who who need you who have never trusted you as their personal Savior my prayer is that they will receive you and ask you to become their Lord and Savior that they will in this very moment in this service Lord God they will become followers of Jesus Christ and then Lord show them your love and your your compassion and your peace and may this be the birthday of many new believers who have put their trust in you father when we have you in our heart we can be concerned but we don’t have to worry we can not understand everything that’s going on but we don’t have to be filled with anxiety thank you for promising us that we can cast our cares upon you for you care for us and I pray this prayer in Jesus name Amen.

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