Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #132

#132 "Careless In His Care"
January 29, 2008
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"  (Matthew 6: 26-27)
J. Arthur Rank, an English executive, decided to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed his ulcer, he would write it down and put it in his worry box and forget about it until next Wednesday. The interesting thing was that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him the past six days were already settled. It would have been useless to have worried about them. What are you worrying about today?
An average person's anxiety is focused on 40% things that will never happen, 30% things about the past that can't be changed, 12% things about criticism by others, mostly untrue, 10% about health, which gets worse with stress and 8% about real problems that will be faced.
In Matthew chapter six Jesus says, "Do not worry". God's Word is chock full of "do not fret"'s. The King James Version says, "take no thought". With it's origin in the Greek word "merimna", it is the idea of distraction. It means to have care or be anxious about something. A really interesting definition that I found said that worry was "to torment oneself with disturbing thoughts". The ancestor of our word "worry" is the Old English "wyrgan", and meant "to strangle". Perhaps, even today, you are taking thought for things that are tormenting your mind and strangling your peace. It's time to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (see 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5) Obedient to Christ when He says, "Do not worry!"
"But you don't know what I'm going through! I have to worry. I can't help it!" Is that what you're thinking right now? Well, Jesus says you must stop worrying. Sounds like a command to me. Let me ask you a question. Has worry ever gotten your prayer answered? Has the check ever appeared in the mailbox because you worried it there? Have you ever been healed because you worried health into your body? Scottish author, Ian Maclaren says, "What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it does empty today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it when it comes. God gives us the power to bear all the sorrow of His making, but He does not guarantee to give us strength to bear the burdens of our own making such as worry induces." Worry affects your health and produces only negative results. It doesn't solve problems...it compounds them. If the check came, if you were healed, if your prayer was answered, it was because God provided, healed and rescued you. Your worry didn't achieve the results. God did!
Jesus tells us not to worry but He is so gracious to not just leave us hanging there. He gives us a strategy to make it happen. A strategy that if you will employ it, it works! He says, "Look at the birds of the air". Here in Michigan, it's pretty cold and snowy outside, but if you listen closely you can hear the birds singing. If you can't see them, man, you can hear them. But you have to have ears to hear. You must train yourself to listen, really listen. And Jesus was right. They don't plant. They don't reap. They don't store away in granaries. They just are. And God takes care of them. I love the Message translation of this verse: "Look at the birds, free and unfettered (free from restrictions, not bound), not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to Him than birds." Careless in the care of God. Does that describe you today?
I know some of you personally and I am tender to what you are facing today. Many of you have serious health issues to deal with. Many are facing financial crisis in an ever shaky economic time. I hear the pain over divorce, breakdowns in parent-child relationships and the indescribable agony of loss. I don't have the time nor the room to mention all of the serious issues that I know we face on a daily basis. And we all face one or more at any given time, on any given day of the week. And you're worried. I know you are. But dear one, look at the birds! Listen for their songs. Encourage yourself with those words from the One who loves you so. He doesn't want you all pent up, nauseous and shaking with fear and worry. Remember that He did not give you a spirit of fear. Fear is the opposite of faith and is a tool of the enemy to distract you from the truth of the Word. Worry is worshiping the words of your enemy.
In Mark chapter four, Jesus said that, "the worries of this life....come in and choke the word (of God), making it unfruitful." There is a war on for your thoughts. The enemy wants God's word choked right out of you. You must get in the battle and let the Word work for you, replacing the words of the enemy. Paul said, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4: 6-7) That peace will make you careless in the care of God.
Do what you can and let God do what you can't. If you are suffering the consequences of bad decisions, make it right as far as it depends on you, and leave the rest to God. If you are suffering as a victim, remember that God is a just God and He is your vindicator and justifier. And if you find yourself in a painful situation today, with no apparent cause, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your understanding." Do not worry! Listen to the birds! Your Heavenly Father loves you so much more than the birds. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die on a Roman cross for your sins. There is no greater love than that! If that's all Christ would have done for us that would be more than enough. But yet, He is so kind and gracious that He answers prayer. He heals. He provides. He restores. He mends. He does exceedingly, abundantly more. Rest in His love. If you are thoroughly, 100% convinced of His love for you, you'll never worry again.
Go ahead and say it out loud, "God loves me....God loves ME! I can be careless in the care of God!"  I pray that you will never see or hear a bird in the same way again. Christ is so awesome to let us clearly see His invisible qualities in His creation. (see Romans 1: 20) And if you are given to worry today, open a window...listen...Jesus is speaking to you.
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