“UnkNOTed – Untying the knots of life through the NOTS of Christ!” Worry Not!

“UnkNOTed – Untying the knots of life through the NOTS of Christ!”

Worry!

Over the next 5 weeks we will tackle some of the biggest knots that bind us from the growth, freedom, and joy which God intends we experience heading into the New Year.  Worry Not, Fear Not, Boast Not, Judge Not, Ashamed Not…

Scripture Reading:   Matt 6: 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Hold that place, because we will be spending most of our time in the 6th chapter of Matthew.  God has created each one of us for a story – His story – the story of redemption.  And it is indeed an epic story.  It’s one of the reasons we think about making New Year’s resolutions!  It may be that so many New Year’s resolutions fail because that we are thinking too small… Or limiting what God can and wants to do in our lives.   It is really a healthy thing to look out over 2017 and think about what it means to make a better you… But I hope to challenge you today not only to commit to being a better you, but that you commit to help those around you reach their incredible potential.  But there are things that put a wrench in our plans – things that put knots around our hearts.  Those 5 things are worry, fear, pride, judgmentalism, and shame.  While all sin affects our relationship to God, Fear and worry are more vertical in direction, hinging upward to our relationship with God.  Pride and judgmentalism are reflected horizontally, affecting our relationships with each other, and shame seems to have overlap in both.

Jesus directs us not to do live in these attitudes because he doesn’t want us to abandon the fullness of life He desires for us.  To the disciples He said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me”… “And, I will never leave you or forsake you!”  Where is this authority to be manifest?  Where you live and work and play… every place.

Matt 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

What are you worried about right now in life?  Some risk involved in asking that question because it sends your thought to a place they might get stuck in!  Worry is a human issue, not just a Christian issue.  List some of things we worry about: Job/wages, school work, if younger or looking for a mate, boyfriends & girlfriends, If you’re a parent, your son or daughter’s reputation, choices they are making, whether you are keeping up with the world of communication, (if you don’t believe social media pressure is a factor in everyday life in America consider the power of the President Elect’s tweets!)  Worry lists can almost be unending: Your health, home, transportation, life/health insurance, termites, lawn pests, leaks in the cement around your pool, rising cost of utilities, friends and neighbors moving away, loss of mobility (driving).  And then a very well-meaning friend comes along and says, “Don’t worry about that!”  It’s kind of like someone saying “Stop thinking about Blueberry pancakes!”  Stop it!!!

Definition of Worry – The mental and emotional anticipation of the future. (Fear is short term, coming from immediate threat, worry reaches out to the possibilities or trending situations in your life.)  In short, Worry is a future oriented emotion that lacks consideration for the internal spiritual resources of God… or as Pastor/author/speaker Andy Stanley puts it:

“Worry is the process of smuggling the troubles of tomorrow into today”

Here is one defining truth about Worry:  It is directly proportional to the things we are most devoted to, the things we care most about.  In Matt 6:24, the context of Jesus command not to worry begins with, “No one can serve two masters…”

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

We are either devoted to one or the other, and how much we care is directly related to our worry.  What happens to be the number one thing people worry about?  $$ MONEY

The reason Jesus doesn’t want you to worry is because it cripples you in the present from making your best decisions and acting on them with confidence and faith.  Most of us don’t worry about someone else’s 401K… or where someone else’s kids may end up going to college or not going to college.  “Therefore” I say to you, do not be worried about your life… (the rhetoric of worry are the questions we ask ourselves, and so Jesus asks us questions to question the premise of our questions!)  Your life is much more than a brain on a stick to put clothes on!

:26  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Song was written by Rose Bonne (lyrics) and Alan Mills and copyrighted in 1952, made famous by Burl Ives when he released it in 1953 – There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly)  For the uninitiated:

“There was an old lady who swallowed a fly   I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – perhaps she’ll die!   There was an old lady who swallowed a spider, That wriggled and wiggled and tickled inside her;

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird; How absurd to swallow a bird.

She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat; Fancy that to swallow a cat!

She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,

She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady that swallowed a dog; What a hog, to swallow a dog;

She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,

She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,

She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a goat she just opened her throat and swallowed a goat, There was an old lady who swallowed a cow, I don’t know how she swallowed a cow;

She swallowed the cow to catch the goat,                                                                                                   she swallowed the goat to catch the dog,

She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,

She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,

She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse….She’s dead, of course!

This contemplation of an ever worsening condition ending in death is humorously (and ridiculously) portrayed in Children’s song.  No wonder so many baby boomers have grown up with such a warped sense of humor!  And no wonder so many of us have learned to worry very well from a very young age…

God encourages us when we are struggling with worry to go and look at the birds, go birdwatching!  Last week we had a Turtle dove standing on the edge of our small fountain enjoying a drink from the leftover water in the basin which I had just cleaned with a pressure washer before adding Clorox.  Just 24 hours earlier this same bird was not worried about where he/she would find a place to drink from the next morning… And yet there are all kinds of threats out there for birds to consider before they perch low and drink.  Three days later I saw an osprey perched  atop of an Australian pine on the other side of our property.  He was 35 feet in the air and not a peep could be heard from smaller birds anywhere in the neighborhood.  As I walked our two dachshunds looking up I attempted to chirped a couple of times like a bird in distress.  He cocked his head at me in obvious disgust, and then few off.  The moment this bird of prey took flight I heard the real chirping of small birds in a shorter Bottle brush tree.  His worries were gone!  Jesus asks us to consider: “Are you not worth more than these?”  Are you not superior, created in his own image?  You have the ability to plan and anticipate, to make resolutions and look out into the future and not just wander from one worry to the next.

Here’s something we don’t often worry about – How many of us have worried about our relationship with God?  And what does worry accomplish?   It can’t create more time, change the size, shape, or health of your body, improve a challenging relationship,  it can’t and won’t elevate your status… increase your net worth, add to your intellect or capacity to produce…  Worry is totally fruitless and uniquely debilitating!  Worry is like rocking in a chair, a lot of energy expended but you’re not getting anywhere.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”  (Corrie Ten Boom, Holocaust survivor, author, speaker.)

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

“Observe the Lillies of the Field…”  Have you considered a flower?  It doesn’t self-generate… Darwin was stumped by flower…said that flowers were the abominable mystery in 1879.  Elsewhere he described it as “a most perplexing phenomenon”. Twenty years after the publication of his seminal work The Origin of Species, there were still aspects of evolution that bothered the father of evolutionary biology. Chief among these was the flower problem. Darwin wrote to Swiss naturalist Oswald Heer in 1875. “[The] sudden appearance of so many Dicotyledons… appears to me a most perplexing phenomenon to all who believe in any form of evolution, especially to those who believe in extremely gradual evolution.” They are an argument against the purest evolutionary view that everything we see results from the survival of the fittest! It that were true across all creative time frames then the earth would be covered with Poison Ivy and Kudsu — but the beautiful flowers of the Hibicus bush or an Hydrandea still exist!

:29 Not even Solomon could compete with these… Solomon started out exceedingly well, his kingdom grew and grew and grew, and he got so smart he got too smart and looked inward.  And he was plagued by worry… It brought him down.  TMI  Too much information used to frustrate his priorities!

:30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

“You of Little Faith” – or Compromised Faith.  Worry sabotages our faith.  Faith isn’t blind faith, but a trusting of Him.  Worry is a cheap substitute for faith. Like replacement sugars, “substitutes”.  One Yale study of Aspartame in 2013 revealed that this substitute sweetener actually causes your body to gain weight by inhibiting your body cells ability to destroy fat.  I’d rather stick with the Real Thing – but drink much less of it!

Unknotting Worry

:31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?

    These were real concerns of the 1st century men and women Jesus was speaking to.  They were not worried about whether they could water their lawns on certain days of the week, whether they have the latest cell phone app, or whether the concert they wanted to attend was sold out.  Our denomination of worry has gotten smaller and smaller with our affluence – and yet this gnawing disease of mind plagues us just the same.

“Your heavenly Father knows that you need them” –  Because of this truth, that God already knows of our needs, this tough decision, this child, this problem,  this situation, just saying “Father you know” is the beginning of coming out of worry. 

Regular, trusting prayer is our defense against worry!

:33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  

    He’s got a kingdom and He has included us in it!  Seeking that Kingdom is unknotting worry.  Today and everyday!  Jesus: “Repent, and believe the gospel for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”  It doesn’t require you to change your occupation, but change our pre-occupation and that will make it EPIC.

Worry is planning but without faith.  Addicted to thinking in wrong ways about our life we forecast the tyranny of the urgent for tomorrow and bring it into today.  We believe we have No time to pray which only adds to our worries!  He knows all of our days… Each day, practice for the Kingdom one day at a time.  One sermon, even one from the words of Christ, isn’t like a botox shot.  This message will last until the next time we worry about something.  Something we have to work on one day at a time because we each have learned to worry from a host of experts – parents and grandparents, family, friends, culture, movies… and more than one politician!

The Apostle Paul sums it up in his letter to the Philippians: “but in everything let your request be known”  – Worry about nothing, pray about everything!

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