2nd Sunday before Lent – Sermon 274
2nd Sunday before Lent
10.00 am Holy Communion- CW
19th February 2017
Prayer to start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
A man was taking a short cut through a churchyard in the dark when he fell into a deep grave which has been prepared for the next day’s funeral. Try as he would – he couldn’t get out – and he sank back exhausted.
Sometime later another man crossed the same churchyard and he too fell in. Thinking himself alone and frightened he struggled to grapple up the sides. The first man leant forward, touched him on the shoulder and said, ‘Son, you won’t get out of here! But Oh boy he certainly did!
Fear, anxiety and stress are something we all have to cope with from time to time –
It make us feel that something bad is about to happen – that there is no one there to help us out
But in fact as Christians – we know that the truth is just the opposite – In reality we are very secure – we have a great helper – and He never leaves us – but still we worry!
In the 10 verses of our NT reading Jesus sets out the arguments and the defenses against worry and anxiety- and shows us how as Christians – our worries and fears can be brought under control –
First Point So what is anxiety?
No one who reads the newspapers or watches the news on television needs to be persuaded that we live in an age of anxiety – and stress
It wears out the mind – it wears out the body. Many of our hospital beds are full of worriers – mental distress can be a big problem –it can affect our judgment – and render us incapable of doing something that we should be able to do –
Someone once said that “worry is the average person crucifying themselves between two thieves – the regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow”
Jesus describes anxiety as a lack of faith – He reminds us that God gave us life – a gift beyond price – and we can trust Him to give us all we need to support it –
Its no accident that the first chapter in the Bible is about God’s word and creative power – God is at the beginning and is in control of everything – there is no description of chaos or conflict – His rule is unchallenged – everything is dependent on God for its existence – including us – everything is fed from God’s hand
As Jesus says, “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 more value than they?”
the birds – live from day to day on what God has provided for them – they know that this is all that they need –
Then Jesus talks about the flowers:
“Consider the lilies of the fields, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these”
The lilies Jesus speaks of are the wild scarlet poppies of the countryside – after a shower of rain – their colour fills the hillsides – yet these same flowers are used to fuel oven fires – if God clothes perishable plants with such beauty – how much more will we be clothed
Which of us says Jesus – by being anxious – can add a single hour to our life span?
C.S.Lewis describes anxiety as a barracade between the human mind and God – that sucks our energy and enthusiasm for God’s work
The message from Jesus is clear – Food, drink and clothing – the material things we think we need to keep going – are seen as less important than the life and body they supply –
We know that God created on a large scale with amazing generosity – He provides for the needs of all we see and keeps on giving – responsibly.
We are the crown of God’s creation – He gave us life – so He will provide the means to sustain that life – We just have to believe in Him and trust in His power and sovereignty over all things –
Point 2 First things first
And there’s more – Jesus tells us that we also have to focus on God’s will –
“Strive first for God’s Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”
In other words – Put God first – Let God become the dominating power in our lives – and do what is right by Him – If we do that – His love and Grace will meet our everyday needs and concerns – and we will receive a quality of life that only He can give –
Everything in society to day points to self – we have to look after number one – because if we don’t then no one else will – the T.V. and media encourages us to believe and trust only in what we see or touch –
But Jesus tells us we must focus on the treasures of heaven – the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness – we need to be responsible, give generously and lovingly and care and support others –
Love can drive out all our worries and concerns – overcome our fears and equip us for the challenges that God puts before us –
Through the love of Jesus one of our darkest fears – death – has already been overcome. Because Jesus rose from the dead – we know that our death is not the end –
Jesus was crucified for our sake – He freed us from guilt – through Jesus we can confess directly to God and receive forgiveness – Through Jesus we can face anything and face it confidently
Point 3 One day at a time
And now we come to the punch line –
“So do not worry about tomorrow – for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today”
Jesus tells us – we must learn to live a day at a time – No – He doesn’t mean forgoing all planning in our lives – many of us live for years with diaries packed with engagements even a year ahead or more – and if we don’t do our financial planning with all the pressures on us to spend our money as soon as we receive it – it wouldn’t be long before things would break down. – but what we mustn’t do is try to live in – and through – the days ahead – now – not even tomorrows
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the clock that had a nervous breakdown –
One day it began thinking about how often it would have to tick in the coming year –now let me see – taking two ticks a second – that’s 1200 a minute, 7200 an hour – 172,800 a day – 1,209, 600 ticks a week –Gosh – the clock suddenly realised it would have to tick nearly 63 million times during the next 12 months just to keep going – “I can’t do that” said the clock – the more the clock thought about it – the more anxious it became – until suddenly it became so upset – that it suffered a nervous collapse.
The clock then confided in a clock doctor – “what shall I do” asked the clock – “well” said doctor clock – “tell me – how many ticks must you tick at a time?” –the clock answered “Oh er Only one – just one” – “well!” said the doctor – “that’s it- simply go on ticking one – at – a – time – and don’t worry about the next one – and you’ll get along fine” – and that’s what the clock did – and it carried on ticking – like all good stories happily ever after – one tick at a time –
Jesus wants us to live and enjoy our lives to the full – one tick at a time – to meet the challenges He puts before us – one day at a time –
The last part of Jesus’ words serves to remind us that we will not necessarily be free of troubles – but we shouldn’t multiply them by worrying about them before they occur – Jesus can be trusted to help us – and deal with them when they arrive –
Jesus believed that God’s grace and power would come when He needed it – He didn’t worry – not even the night before His crucifixion – He relied on His heavenly Father – and that’s what we must do – seek God’s help – plan tomorrow then leave tomorrow until it comes –
Anxiety and stress can affect us all – but Jesus can release us from our fears – He shows us three ways to do it –
The way of faith – we must live by faith anchored in God’s word – and really believe in the reality of His person, His promises and His sovereignty
The way of truth – we know that we can count on God’s love – He will come to our aid and provide all that we need – when we need it
The way of First things first – God’s will must be the number one thing in our lives – if not we will waste the opportunities that we are given – One of the best things about the future is that it comes – one day at a time
Our prime responsibility is to trust God and give Him our whole hearted devotion free from anxiety about the details of our lives – and with God’s help we will find peace – and our greatest worries and fears will be gone forever.
Prayer to Finish
In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit