Sermons

Summary: In times and circumstances when we are tempted to worry Jesus gives us the cure: Stay focused on the Kingdom not the Calamity - Learn the value of contentment.

22.3.09

HANDLING ANXIETY IN A TIME OF ECONOMIC CRISIS

Matthew 6:19-34

INTRO

How many of you still buy and read a daily newspaper?

Most of us keep up with the news one way or the other – either by listening to the radio or watching television news and in-depth reports. Also, increasing numbers of people access the news through the Internet.

It is a pity that it appears that it is bad news that sells newspapers. I wonder if anyone has ever measured the psychological impact of being bombarded with bad news stories from day to day at the expense of the good. How does it affect us and form our world view?

QUESTION How do you handle bad news?

Story this week:

Growing world population will cause a "perfect storm" of food, energy and water shortages by 2030, the UK government chief scientist is warning.

By 2030 the demand for resources will create a crisis with dire consequences, Prof John Beddington predicts.

Demand for food and energy will jump 50% by 2030 and for fresh water by 30%, as the population tops 8.3 billion, he is due to tell a conference in London.

Climate change will exacerbate matters in unpredictable ways, he will add.

"It’s a perfect storm," Prof Beddington will tell the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference.

This ’Perfect storm’ poses a global threat, says Professor Beddington

"There’s not going to be a complete collapse, but things will start getting really worrying if we don’t tackle these problems.

POINT

This is something our resident scientist Paul Farrant was warning us about in an evening service a few months ago – but with a different timescale.

QUESTION

How do you respond to news like this?

• Some of us will be concerned for the welfare of our sons or daughters or grandchildren.

• Some of us will be concerned about ourselves and the security of our future.

• All of us will to some degree be concerned for the poor who will be effected most by the coming storm and respond appropriately.

At some time in the future a crisis of one form or another will certainly take place. What kind of a crisis and when and how it will take place remains to be seen.

QUESTION

How would God have us respond to news like this?

READING Matthew 6:19-34

Don’t worry. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. All these things will be yours as well.

THESIS God’s word to us is this:

FOCUS YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE KINGDOM RATHER THAN THE CALAMITY

POINT

It’s amazing counsel. Philosophers, personal trainers, therapists and gurus could not come with anything better.

Nor could they offer anything better. Because all they could offer is a coping strategy – Jesus reveals to us a right way of living that has the backing and substance of truth and spiritual reality behind it.

POINT

Thanks be to God – The Bible offers us a story with a happy ending. The drama of Scripture moves towards an ending in which all things are made new and sin and evil is finally defeated. What is more, the good news is that none need perish in the process – all who put their trust in Jesus as Saviour and Lord will be saved.

QUESTION

What does it mean to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness?

It is simply WHAT WE FOCUS OUR LIVES UPON

ILLUSTR

Liz has a digital camera that focuses automatically on the object she want to photograph. But one day it went faulty and the automatic focus mechanism began to drift every time, leaving everything in a blur.

POINT

Our Christian lives can be like this. GOD DIRECTS US TO FOCUS ON THE KINGDOM. But we all too easily drift from focusing on God’s kingdom in our lives, and when we do so everything turns into a blur.

We will always have the tendency to drift. But we CAN ALWAYS REFOCUS and fix the direction of our lives on the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

HOW DO WE DO THIS?

1. THE KINGDOM

John Stott in his commentary on Matthew states that to seek is first to desire = to desire more than anything else to see in everything the Kingdom rule of Christ.

The Kingdom of God is a description of the God’s rule – partially in this present, earthly life, and fully in the future.

Examples

• It is to desire justice for the poor – whether the nations or the poor, powerless and marginalized in society.

• It is to seek to make Jesus Christ known to those who might receive him as Saviour and Lord in a personal response of faith.

• It is to seek each day to ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ’

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