Greatest Fears- Sermon 54

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May every thought and word be graciously received for the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ


What’s our biggest fears?

that we will lose our health
our job
our friends
that we will lose control

Sometimes just thinking about such things can send us into an emotional roller coaster ride

We worry that the tightrope we call life – one day might suddenly snap – and there will be no one to catch us –

Anxiety – or as Matthew puts it “ thought of life” means distress about uncertainty – we get concerned that something bad is about to happen – that there is nothing we can do – and there is no one to help us –

But in fact as Christians – we know 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 defenses against worry and anxiety

We are going to look at what He says and see how as Christians our worries can be brought under control


point 1  So what is anxiety?

No one who reads the morning papers or watches the news on television needs to be persuaded that we live in an age anxiety

It might be a mild tension before an interview, or a worry after an examination, because the future is at stake, or it could be someone’s forehead dripping with sweat waiting to hear whether a loved one has survived an accident or natural disaster

Anything from a knawing within to a general bewilderment or even shear terror – such as a child might experience when she is lost –

It can be the most painful emotion we experience

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
“Behold the fouls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, or gather into barus; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”

the birds live from day to day on what God has provided for them – they know that this is all they need

Then Jesus talks about the flowers:
“Consider the lilies of the fields, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed 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 one cubit to his stature?

Worry is futile – it achieves nothing – Half our so called problems never actually occur – worrying about them is more likely to shorten our lives rather than lengthen them –

It wears out the mind – and it wears out the body with it. Many of our hospital beds are full of worriers – mental distress can lead to loss of sleep – headaches – heart trouble – two of the most common diseases of modern day are stomach ulcers and coronary thrombosis – and both can be caused by worry –

It affects our judgment – and can render us incapable of doing something that we should be able to do –

If we were to ask two people here this evening – to read a lesson in church – one might get up and read clearly and calmly – whereas another might show symptoms of shear panic and struggle with every word – the difference between them wouldn’t be a question of gift or ability – but degree of anxiety within –

C.S.Lewis describes worry as a barrier between the human mind and God – worry is sin – and sin causes worry – it sucks our vital energy and enthusiasm for God’s work – worry and anxiety could be described as the opposite to inner peace

The message is clear – the material things we think we need to keep going – (food, drink and clothing) 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

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you”

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 concerns – and we will receive a quality of life that only He can give –

Everything in society today points to self – we have to look after number one – because if we don’t no one else will – the T.V media encourages us to believe and trust only in what we see or touch

Such and such a hair shampoo will make us feel like a new person – if we use a certain aftershave or perfume – we will be irresistible to the opposite sex – if we buy that new car we will be magically transformed to some exotic place – every time we drive it –

It all serves to increase our dependence on material things –

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 concerns – overcome our fears and equip us for the challenges that God puts before us –

Through the Love of Christ 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 –

“Take therefore no thought for tomorrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient of the day is the evil thereof”

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 everything would break down – but what we mustn’t do is try to live in – and through the days ahead – now – not even the things of tomorrow

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 is 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 reminds 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 – which He knew was coming – 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

It was Franklin D Rosevelt that said “The only thing we have to fear – is fear itself”

Jesus can release us from our fears – if we take His path to freedom – He will bring us peace – In this passage He shows us three ways to do it –

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 –

Way of truth – we know that we can count on God’s love – He will come to our aid and provide us with all we need – when we need it –

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 – He reminds us that 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 – so that with God’s help we will find peace – and all our greatest fears will be lost forever

Prayer to finish

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit