Summary: Conquering the fear reflected in our What If’s.
SERMON NOTES: May 31st, 2009 – Paralyzing What If’s – Matthew 6:25-34
Illustration: Missionaries new post– husband missing – wife worried - hears native drums – fear/what if’s – husband returns with friendly natives bearing anniversary gifts - wife was so worried about negatives she forgot about anniversary.
Why was the missionary wife so worried about the unknown? Why did she jump to conclusions? “Do not worry” is Jesus’ command in today’s scripture from Matthew 6:25-34. What are some of our What if’s?
What if…car accident, lose job, hurricane, certain laws pass, kid drops out of church, mate is cheating on me, my parents can no longer take care of themselves. What if I am not hearing God’s call on my life? What if Pentecost never happened?
Why do we put ourselves through the paralyzing What If’s?
We do this because fear is the opposite of trust, and fear is the weapon of choice of the forces of evil, those who oppose the kingdom of God.
Fear is used by those with a platform to move us in the direction they desire. Fear sells (magazines, news papers, TV ratings/ads…). Fear wins political contest. Fear is used by parents. And all too often fear is used by the church.
Illustration: (1) Print articles add up to $543M Americans seriously sick, U.S. population only 270M.
(2) Church – If you do this or that you will go to Hell, or God is watching you! You better act like we tell you.
What If’s are unhealthy, physically and spiritually. Concern and fear produce stress and we have all heard about the negative effects of stress on our health. What If’s move us away from God. They distract us from Jesus and become obstacles to spiritual growth in our relationship with God. By the way, the definition of Sin is anything that separates us from God.
Let’s think about this. Do you think the people of Jesus’ day ever worried about paralyzing “What if’s”? Based on the scripture we shared this morning from Matthew we can answer that question with a big YES they did. What if we are never freed from Roman oppression? What if I can’t afford the exchange rate at the temple? Will I be able to worship? What if the promised Messiah never comes?
What can we do? How do we cope with fear and worry?
Here are a few suggestions:
(1.) Listen to Jesus’ words in vs. 27, 31, and 34.
27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
31Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?”
34 ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Do you hear the words of hope? We can find comfort in the words of Jesus.
(2.) Visualize a “No Trespassing” sign. Do not enter a place god does not want you to be!
(3.) Form habits to unlearn the fear culture we are currently subjected to. Two examples of new habits are:
a. take worries to God in prayer. Lay everything on the line and tell god you trust him to take care of you and your family. Learn to recognize god’s voice in the quiet of unhurried intimacy. Paul Tournier wrote, “The Christian is not exempt from fear, but takes their fears to God. Faith does not suppress fear; what it does is to allow one to go forward in spite of it.”
b. Memorize scripture that you can recall in times of worry to replace the “What if’s”. You can write them on a small card and carry the scripture with you. Some helpful examples are:
Philippians 4:6-9 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
1 Peter 5:7 7Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
Matthew 6:34 34‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
As we practice these suggestions (listen to Jesus, visualize No Trespass sign, form new habits like prayer and memorizing scripture) expect to experience meaningful changes in the way we face challenges and fears. With God’s help we can change the fear culture we live in. Remember, culture reflects the way people act, the things people do. The only way to change a culture is to create a new one by changing the way we respond to situations. The change we need to make in order to claim victory over our fears, is to confront paralyzing “What If’s” with trust in the victorious one, Jesus Christ.