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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ain't Going to Worry No More

31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:31-34 (ESV) 

Worry comes from the Old English word "wrgyn." which means "to strangle." Those whose superpower is worrying understand this all too well. They feel strangled by their own worries but don't know what to do about it.

Anxious comes from the Latin word "angere" which means "to choke." How could these words be more similar. They are rooted in an expectation of the future that has little or no hope. They both take the life out of us. They remove anything fulfilling. They keep us from being  what we are and should be. It is no wonder that Jesus and Paul (Philippians 4:6) would tell us that we aren't to be anxious or worry.

But where it is rooted? Why do we worry about things that might happen or predict that the things that will happen are catastrophic? Why couldn't we simply put our trust in God and no longer be troubled by events we can neither affect nor adequately predict? Most worriers are worse than weathermen. They are only correct about ten percent of the time but predict rain nearly every day.

The answer came to me as I was riding my bicycle home last week. I was about to preach a message titled "Prayer that Calms" and had read several scriptures which prohibited worrying or being anxious. I thought that there was no answer to the reason why until it struck me. It hit me so hard that it must have come by the Spirit. The answer was: "People become anxious when they want tomorrow's grace today."

It came to me. God gives grace for today. His grace is intended for today. We do not receive tomorrow's grace today. Matthew 6: 34 was very clear. That there will be anxieties that will come tomorrow. We will receive God's grace for them when we need them. This is God's dealing with us.

How much bread did Jesus say we should pray for in the Lord's Prayer? Daily! How much manna did the Israelites pick up in the desert (with the exception of the day before the Sabbath)? A day's worth! How much gathering do the birds of the air receive? A day's worth. Worrying about tomorrow causes us to miss the grace we have received for today.

Sure, you may get the word that you have terminal cancer. You can either decide to worry about it or you can rejoice in this day that the Lord has made. You can roll over and die or you can seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness for today. This places the worry in God's hands and He is not worried about it at all.

Thus, you have a bill that you can't pay today. God gives you grace for today. You seek His kingdom and His righteousness and all the needs are met.

No one needed this message more than me. I was worrying over the church budget. It is not going well. Some of the problem may be that we are in a building campaign and some of the people may be directing their giving into the building rather than into the budget. I decided that I, too, needed to seek His kingdom and His righteousness and let Him supply what was needed.

Will He move people to give to the church budget? I don't know. I just know that I seek His kingdom and His righteousness today. And I have grace in that.

I will no longer allow tomorrow's worries keep me from today's grace. I am absolutely sure of one thing:  I have grace for today.


Anthony Chia said...

What can I add? Almost nothing.

The verse you have used in your preceding entry was this:

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) - I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

That is a good manifesto for a believer’s life.

Although you talked about legalism in that preceding entry, this Gal 2:20 is what one can etch on their tombstone if he has indeed lived to God. It really isn’t we actually died crucified with Jesus; you and I are alive, but when we come into salvation, we have undertaken to identify with that – that we are crucified with Him. We have acknowledged that Christ relinquished His earthly life for us, and because we are still living in our body, and He, no longer, we actually have undertaken to relinquish on old-self life so that Christ could live through us.

The old-self life is life of the unregenerate man, one that is motivated by the desires of the self or flesh (fallen flesh). The old-self is insecure and self-gratifying seeking. Typically, and it is typical of the men of the world, to self-gratify instantly, and to strive for tomorrow because of insecurity. And of course, pride is in there; the self wants to be in control; uncertainty it does NOT like; and so, it does NOT like “living day by day”.

I am an accountant by profession, and I do marvel at the traditional way church does budgeting (today, maybe, many churches do NOT do it that way anymore!). I was told the church looks at the expenditure side, and considers what God wants done for the coming season; and then they just pluck in the revenue/income side the total of the expenditures!(more or less) That is faith-budgeting, I called it, that. By faith the church believes God will provide for what He wants done through the church.

I know it is daunting, it sounded daunting to me; it stretches faith! The old-self life if you have NOT exchanged with the life of Christ, it will tell you to “play it safe”, budget your revenue first, and then plan to spend a percentage of that.

Some churches are keeping just too much for tomorrow; once I came across a report on a church wanting to keep more than 5 years of operating expenditure amount, before it will spend more for the budget or give to missionary work! I am sorry to say that church leaders must lead by example. I mean you don’t tell the members of congregation to set aside for 5 years’ expenditure of the family, before giving to the church of their monthly salary, do you? Or we will NOT agree with them wanting to wait until the end of 5 years period before they will give, on ground that it is to make sure they do NOT lose their jobs in between, will we?!

But here I am of course NOT saying that Ps Prentis is still holding to the old-self life, and I believe he is sincerely concerned about shortfall could happen should the revenue side does NOT come as budgeted; that church staff salaries could be affected, creditors bills could NOT be paid, and the church could come into the bad light, etc. Ps Prentis has exchanged his old-self life with the life of Christ, and so, he is trying to live out the life of Christ, and that life of Christ, essentially is a living to God, living a life pleasing to God (that is the exchanged life, we are supposed to live out, on relinquishing our old-self life).


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

As the Gal 2:20 verse is saying, it is still Ps Prentis (or we) who is the one living in the body (Christ, no longer [in His own body]). Unlike the disciples of Jesus’ time, they had Christ Jesus in person with them, but we don’t, physically. Ps Prentis (and we, too), have to live the life in our body by faith in the Son of God (Jesus), believing and trusting who Christ Jesus is and has done. That is the trusting life, or the persevering life, which I have preferred to call it, for we cannot let go of the exchanged life of the life of Christ, and taking back up the old-self life, a cross-less life; we have to continue to believe and continue to trust.

Because it is the life of Christ through us, it is He leads by His Spirit (Spirit of Christ), NOT us; and so, there bound to be uncertainties in some things, including whether or NOT there will be sufficient money to cover coming expenditure or to pay for expenses already incurred. We do our best to follow Him and work with Him (and we have to do that; it is important that He is WITH us in what we are doing), and rest in He knows what He is doing, and is a good leader (and He is the best there can be), who will mind and care for those who follow Him. At times, we may lose face, before men, but that is alright, if we sincerely are following after Him. When we honor Him, He will honor us, if NOT now, in the time to come. And when we have lived our believer’s life that way, we can then perhaps put on our tombstone, Gal 2:20.

The day by day living comprised in following the Lord, Ps Prentis has expounded it well, already. A life of following is like that - there is be bound to be uncertainties, but what we do NOT worry because of who we are following.

“Lord, you know the heart of your son, Ps Prentis. He is for you, love you, and is given to working with you. You take personal interest in the growth of each of us, and you are working with Ps Prentis according to his unique settings. I know your will and timing are perfect, and that you know what you are doing in that setting, yet I ask for special favour for Ps Prentis, that you encourage him along.

Praying in the knowledge of your word that your grace is sufficient for us. Amen.”

Anthony Chia, high.expressions
PS: I must admit though, it is more easily said than done, but that is the challenge we, as believers, are to overcome, in Christ Jesus, and we can do it, for He has overcome.