Pastor Marky-Mark and the Holy Bunch - Blog Post 1
This is the template for a sermon that was written by Rev. Mark K. Lee. We're hoping that this aids you in your walk with Christ during this difficult time.
Scripture Texts: Philippians 4:4-9, Matthew 6:25-34
Psalm 127:2 It is in vain that you rise up early, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
There aren’t many subjects for which I would claim expertise, but today’s subject is an area in which I am a medal winner. Unfortunately, it would be a medal in the subject of sinful worry.If the term “sinful worry" makes no sense to you, then set up and listen closely as we go through this study. You see, in my early years I leaned how to worry with the best of them. When I was having trouble of some kind I could literally stay up all night trying to come up with a solution. I thought that if I would just think about it long enough I could solve the problem through fretting. I worried so much that if I went through a day without anxiety - I worried about it! 😁
Maybe you are like I used to be, and you worry about things frequently. You think that it’s okay, because everybody worries. You know anxiety causes you health problems and lack of sleep. You’ve concluded that it is a family-inherited problem and there is little you can do about it. I hope you see today that your propensity to worry is not right and you should be taking steps to conquer it. You can use behavior modification from psychology and help reduce your stress. You could try yoga and enter into a Zen-like state of conscious freedom. You could try many methods of calming effects that might do some good. But I want to show you today is that - now get ready for this - anxiety is a sinful habit that needs to be broken by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we’re going to know that through the all-sufficient word of God.
Pause and think about that a moment. 🤔 Now, some of you are already angry for me suggesting such a thing! Some of you are confused because you’ve always heard that worry is just in your genes. Some of you are waiting to read on, because you know stress is a real problem for you, and you want to conquer it. I hope all of you listen to God’s word today and receive the help you need with anxiety. Don’t tune out or quit on this study. Read all the way through. But more than anything - don’t worry about it! Now get your Bible out and turn to the indicated passages. Philippians 4:4-9 is where we begin. Philippians 4:4 We begin today with what our lives should be filled with. = Joy Paul states here that we are to "rejoice always." He then repeats that we are to "rejoice." Now, I know what you’re thinking "nobody does that." You’re right! We are sinful human beings and nobody rejoices all the time. It is a standard too high for us to attain. We are told that Jesus was a "man of sorrow," yet he gladly laid down his life for believers. So somehow Jesus always found joy in everything in life. He is the perfect standard for all things good. Though we will not reach perfect joy, this side of heaven, we can become more like Jesus in our behavior. We can can find ways to rejoice more frequently on a daily basis. We will see in a bit what Jesus has to say about being anxious. Before we leave this verse let’s be clear, our joy is to be "in the Lord." What Paul means here and what we learn from Jesus is that our present circumstances cannot override the continual joy we find in our Savior. Because Jesus died and rose again and chose you to be one of his children, you can have real joy.
Tuck that statement away and let’s continue on. In Philippians 4:5 the ESV renders the verse "Let your reasonableness be known to everyone." The NASB is a little easier for me to comprehend. "Let your gentle spirit be known to all men." Don’t you find when you are on edge, due to stress, that you can easily blow up. Anxiety causes anger and bitterness to boil over. You do not have a "gentle spirit." You are not "reasonable" when worry controls your thoughts and emotions. On the other end of the spectrum, you may become quiet and withdrawn. Worry causes you to isolate yourself.You won’t talk about your struggles with anyone and the worry grips you, causing you to have fears and thoughts that are out of balance, and sometimes completely devoid of reality. You become "unreasonable." In Philippians 4:5 we see the ESV says that "The Lord is at hand." The NASB states "the Lord is near." The NLT has it "the Lord is coming soon." To think about that is helpful in at least three ways.
1. How will the Lord find you when he returns? Will he find you trusting him in every situation, which we sometimes claim?
2. What you are worrying about, and is robbing you of your joy, will be gone in an instant when Jesus returns. It won’t amount to a thing when Jesus comes to renew all things. As Paul says in another place what is going on here is a momentary and light affliction. (2 Cor. 4:17)
3. Jesus is Near. Jesus promised to always be with us in Matthew 28:20. That is a FACT for all true believers!
So dwell on the fact that "the Lord is near" and see how much that helps your stress. But we’ve got to get to more than just help in our circumstances here. We’ve got to get to the root issue of why we get "stressed out." Is it because my family is hard to get along with? Is it that my job is difficult? Is it that the culture around me just brings anxiety on me, simply because it is like it is? I will say that it is those situations, and many more like them, where we often feel anxiety. >>The real problem is a lack of trust in the God who made us.<< Read that again and let it soak in. ^ Let’s move on to Philippians 4:6 and go a little deeper into this topic. "Do not be anxious about anything" To get the full weight of what Paul is saying here, we will go to another passage that contains the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. - Matthew 6:25-34 (Don’t "worry" we won’t dwell on every phrase as we are in Philippians 4.) (Read Matthew 6:25-34) We’re simply going to point out the highlights here. We must notice that Jesus states three times - "do not be anxious." Vv. 25, 31 & 34 Note that this is not Jesus making a suggestion; it is Jesus giving a command! You are familiar with the Ten Commandments? When we find commands as we do here in Philippians and Matthew, they are statutes that are to be obeyed. When one breaks a commandment it is called ..... sin. I feel the bristle from some of you right now! "Wait a minute," you say, "my doctor treats me for anxiety!" But you call it a sin?! I’m not a doctor and I’m not saying that what he is treating you for is a sin. You might have anxiety related to a chemical imbalance.
You might have anxiety related to pharmaceuticals that you must take for other issues. You might have anxiety related to past trauma. Those things could be true. What I want you to seriously consider, and do not dismiss quickly, is the fact that your anxiety could possibly be sin related. Your real issue might be that you are not trusting God with the things in life that bug you. So your anxiety could very possibly be related to the sin about which Jesus is speaking here in Matthew 6 and Paul in Philippians 4. The anxiety about which Jesus is referring in Matthew 6 is related to daily necessities. The things that we eat, and things that we wear. Jesus tells the folks there to look at the birds. They are provided for by a system that God designed at creation. The Almighty God provides for little sparrows, surely he will care for you. I spent some time in the prayer garden a while back. I was cleaning out the dead stuff left over from the previous fall. I had let the seed heads of the Black-Eyed Susans and Purple Cone Flower last fall so that it would go to seed in the Prayer Garden, because it had thinned out a bit in recent years. The day after I had cleaned that stuff up, I saw several birds hopping around in there picking up seeds that I couldn’t even see. (I know, that’s not saying much.) You see, there are many thousands of seeds on plants like that. Many, many more than are needed to reseed an area. God designed it that way to provide for birds and other critters. There is an old poem or writing that speaks of these very verses. (Sorry I couldn’t remember enough to get the whole poem off the google machine.) Some birds are talking about humans and why they seem to fret so much. The birds conclude that they must not have a Heavenly Father who cares for them as the birds do. This reminds me of an old song. -
🎶 I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me, His eye is on the Sparrow, And I know He watches me. 🎵
Jesus compares their anxiety to lilies that grow wild in the hillsides in Israel. In that semi-arid region of the world there are numerous wild lilies that bloom in a spectacular fashion when rain has been adequate. Years ago I remember seeing super magnified photos of lily flowers.Their patterns are absolutely exquisite. There was a comparison of super-magnified photos of man-made garments that simply looked a mess under magnification. So when Jesus says that Solomon in all of his glory could not compare with the lilies, he certainly knew his stuff. Anything green in semi-arid Israel is short lived. Jesus said it was alive one day and used for fire the next. And something like that is no comparison to his crown of creation, the human being. You see, that is what we are. We are the "very good" part of God’s handiwork that topped off original creation. Very good until Adam sinned. Now in our fallen state we struggle with sins of many kinds and ailments too numerous to count. One of those is anxiety that leads to human malfunctioning. And he said in verse 30 that those who worry have "little faith." Okay - it’s good that you have faith, but it’s a faith that needs to grow up and stop the sin of being anxious. We need to have a growing faith and not be satisfied with just a little. In Matthew 6:32 Jesus says that even unbelievers seek after the basic necessities of life without regard to God. We all have the same basic needs in life. Jesus says the Heavenly Father knows you need the basics! He is not unaware and He really does care. Almighty God is big enough to take care of you. The Coronavirus is spreading, panic is ensuing, and the media is fanning the flames. Panic sells! People are hoarding groceries, water, and toilet paper in great fear that all will be shut down. The corwavius is dangerous and we should heed the warnings about social distancing and common sense sanitation.
There is a healthy fear that causes us to use proper procedures to keep ourselves and others safe. There is nothing wrong with being prepared, but hysteria often reigns in a people who are self-consumed. That self-absorption leads to hoarding, hysteria and anxiety. Jesus then follows in Matthew 6:33 with what I think is one of the most comforting verses in the entire Bible. It’s also in a song -
🎶 Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, And his righteousness, And all these things will be added unto you, Allelu, Alleluia 🎵
In this comforting verse Jesus gives us the key to escaping worry. = Focus on God and His Kingdom. What did Jesus teach us in the model prayer? What is the first thing we pray for? "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name...." We are to pray that in every circumstance in our lives and the corporate life of the church God’s name will be glorified. The second thing in the prayer is "Thy Kingdom Come..." We are to be ever praying for... *The conversion of unsaved souls. *The discipleship of the Saints. *And the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then Jesus said... "Thy will be done... That is praying for personal, family, and church obedience. Thus we seek God in: Making his name holy, praying for the advance of His kingdom, and that we are actively cooperating in his will for our lives.
If we can keep "seeking Jesus" in our minds and hearts, it will make all the difference! Okay, as we come back to Philippians 4:6 we note that it is the topic of prayer to which Paul refers. Now listen to how the NLT renders this part of the verse... Pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for what he has done. So if you like steps to help you, then here they are...when you feel anxiety coming on.
1. Don’t forget to pray 2. Tell God what you and others need 3. Give thanks Philippians 4:7
Peace is what we need. I’m sure that temporary peace can come through behavior modification. Peace can come in a very temporary way for those that practice yoga. Peace can come with a quiet walk in nature. But there is only one peace that is lasting and real, a peace that passes all understanding. That is through the forgiving Gospel of Jesus Christ. You and the Lord are going to have to work on this together. Are you taking that pharmaceutical because it is a medical problem? Or is your real problem a lack of trust in God? Are you worrying yourself to death because you think it’s just a common family problem? If you are, then you could be damaging your witness to a watching world. Are you stressed because you have an overbearing spouse, coworker or neighbor, or, honestly now, is the real problem your own sinful heart?
The very one who taught us about anxiety is the one who laid down his life for anxious sinners. When Jesus suffered on that cross he substituted his life so that you can be forgiven of the sin of anxiety. I ask you to place your faith in Jesus for salvation if you haven’t, and begin to trust him with your life. If you are a Christian, then I ask you to think very seriously about the commands we have studied today about not being anxious. Ask God to help you and transform your heart and mind to trust him more and more everyday. The peace he gives as it says in Philippians 4:7 will guard your heart and mind. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a home decoration with Philippians 4:8 on it. There should be - for people who can fall into worry. Because when things are going bad and your mind is filled with trouble, it is good to think of positive attributes. Philippians 4:8 mentions: "honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and things worthy of praise." It’s almost as if just saying those words seems to pick up your spirit. Those attributes are Jesus. That is why they pick you up. When you are feeling down, think of Jesus and how good he is. "Think about these things," Paul says. An important fact: Philippians is a prison epistle. Paul wrote this joy-filled letter while he was imprisoned in Rome. It is pretty certain that Paul wrote Philippians while he was under house arrest in Rome. This occurs at the end of the book of Acts. Just think of that! Read that 8th verse again and imagine yourself confined to a small area for two long years! Is this the kind of letter you’d be writing to those on the outside? Paul goes on in verse 9 to tell the folks that what they have now learned, they should put into practice. That is what we need to do now that we’ve heard this message.
Application First - I want to tell you what happened to me. At some point in my life the Lord brought it to my attention that if I continued to live that way, I would have an unhealthy and most likely, a shortened life. I heard a sermon about worry where I believe I realized for the first time that my anxiety was due to sin in my life. For a few days after hearing the sermon I was mad at the preacher for saying such a thing! But the more I thought about it, the more I knew he was right. My worry was a sinful habit. The root of that problem was lack of trust in God. So I’m thankful for sanctification in that the Holy Spirit has led me away from worry into greater trust in God. I’m not perfect by any stretch. I still have times when concern bleeds over into worry. But the Holy Spirit continues to help me be more like my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 1. Receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior The very heart of your worry could be that you do not yet know Jesus as your Savior. His death, burial and resurrection paid the price for your sin. Stop putting this off and surrender to the Holy Spirit! Today is your day of salvation.
2. You’re on medication for anxiety I would never tell you that you do not need your medication. That is between you and your medical doctor. But I will say that greater trust in the Creator God who made you, might reduce the need for medication. As I said earlier - some of your worrisome trouble could be sin related. Talk to God about it. Search the scriptures for more help.
3. You are like me - you are just a plain old worry-wart. You are saved. You understand salvation and the fact that Christ died for you, but you hang on to solutions and problem-solving for things that can’t be solved. Ask yourself honestly; what is the real root of my anxiety?
Is my sinful worry the fact that I do not trust the Almighty God? I know what I’ve written today is hard stuff. You may be madder than a hornet, like I was several years ago. Some of you cannot comprehend what is written here, and you missed the whole thing. You got upset about one thing and you haven’t really understood the rest. Read through the the texts we studied today, and look for more scripture about worry. Anxiety is a big problem that leads to many other difficulties. The Holy Spirit can help. Good news! Jesus Christ laid down his life for anxious sinners. The Holy Spirit brings transforming power to believes, making them more like Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 35:4 Say to those with an anxious heart, "Be strong, fear not! Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.