Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Pandemics breed fear and uncertainty, yet there is a way to live above the fray and to settle our anxious hearts. Today we bring you some peace in the midst of your storm. Please stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Wind with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, many of us find the burden of worry overwhelming.
Is there a way out? You know Dave, there is a way out, but I do have to say that worry is something that all of us struggle with. On the one hand, we have all the promises of God, but applying those promises oftentimes is not easy. I remember a woman who said to me, Pastor, you said that we shouldn't worry.
Well, if I were to stop worrying, I'd have nothing to think about. And isn't that the testimony of many of us? And yet at the same time, the Bible offers us hope, and the more we believe what God has said, the less we'll be overcome by anxiety. That's why I believe that this message is going to be such a blessing. I hope that you listen carefully.
I hope that your heart is open to what God wants to share with us, because after all, we're to cast our care upon Him, for He cares for us. Someone has said that most of us live our lives between two thieves. The regrets of yesterday and the anxieties of tomorrow, and there we hang crucified. Anxiety and tension and stress, whatever word you might want to call it, is a part of our society. It's a part of our lives. Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, and if it's in the trib, you know that it's true, according to the Tribune, it is okay for you to have lots of cholesterol as long as you have no anxiety, because your body will naturally siphon off all the cholesterol if you don't have any anxiety. So when I'm in a restaurant and I'm asked whether I want sour cream and butter, I say yes, I love cholesterol, and I'll try not to combine it with anxiety. But the fact of the matter is that many of us do combine it with anxiety, and precisely because of that, that's the problem.
That's the problem. I'm speaking about anxiety today because the word worry really means to be torn in two, and that's what it does to us. It tears us in two, day and night. Now, there is such a thing as concern. Paul had godly concern for the churches, and even though I speak today about anxiety, that does not mean that we should be concerned about nothing. There are some things that are of concern to us.
The poor should be of concern to us. Those who do not know the gospel should be of concern to us. But I'm talking today about the anxiety and the cares of this world, that which tears us into that which we call worry. Now what I'm going to do in the next few moments is, first of all, give you three reasons why you should not worry. And then after we've done that, we're going to talk about three principles to overcome worry, and at the end of the message we're going to give all of our worries to God. We're going to leave here today rejoicing, lighthearted, glad, and free.
That's the agenda. And in order to make sure that it is accomplished, I'm going to ask you to take your Bibles and turn to Matthew chapter 6. Matthew chapter 6, where Jesus is speaking about anxiety and worry, and he speaks with clarity and power. First of all, as I mentioned, I'm going to give you three reasons why we should not worry.
Number one, and I assume that you are taking notes, number one, because of who you are, because of who you are. We pick it up in verses 25 and 26. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you shall eat, what you shall drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow nor reap or store into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? First of all, because of who you are, you're more valuable than birds, said the robin to the sparrow. I should really like to know why those anxious human beings run around and worry so, said the sparrow to the robin.
I think it must be they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me. Jesus Christ's point is not that birds do not work. Birds work, but they do not worry. So far as we know, animals do not worry.
Many years ago here in Chicago at the University of Chicago, they wanted to do an experiment on ulcers and they wanted to use dogs, but they gave up the experiment because they couldn't get dogs to worry. You see, it is we as human beings that worry, but animals do not worry, and yet and yet God takes note of them. God takes note of them. Jesus says you are more valuable than the birds. You are more valuable than the flowers of the field. Verse 28, and why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin, and yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Jesus is saying you are also more valuable than the flowers of the field, and God grows them so beautifully and he adorns them. A number of years ago, my family and I took a trip to Montana. I want you to know, folks, that there ain't much going on in Montana. I think the people there ought to live for a hundred years easily. Entirely different time frame and schedule.
In fact, some of those folks out there, bless them, I think it takes them an hour and a half just to watch 60 Minutes. But we noticed as we were going along that there were these huge boulders. Are you acquainted with the word tundra? We stopped the car and we went behind these boulders and we took a walk and and there were some of the prettiest little flowers I'd ever seen. And I wondered why does God create so many little flowers that human eyes do not see on the mountains and the hills of the world? And I concluded that the only reason must be because they bloom for him, because nobody else sees them and God takes care of them and he makes them so beautiful. Now, of how much value are flowers?
Well, if you were in Israel and you wanted to light a fire in your home and you wanted to get it started very quickly so that it would burn, you would take some dried flowers and you'd throw it into the stove. That's how much they are worth. Look at what Jesus is saying, if God so clothes the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Don't miss Christ's point. It is this that when we worry we diminish our value. We diminish our value. What we are saying is is that God actually has more interest in the birds of the field and the flowers of the field than he does about us. And Jesus is saying that that birds and flowers in comparison to us are exceedingly worthless. He said is not does not a sparrow sold for a farthing or two farthings and and yet you are so valuable you were redeemed at high cost and God cares about you. And if he sees the sparrow that falls to the ground as we heard this morning so beautifully sung, if his eye is on the sparrow, do you think that he's going to forget about us, his chosen ones, elect from before the foundation of the world?
Will he forget about us? No. You know the Bible says that the very hair of our head is numbered. I look over the congregation today and I can see that for some of you that's no big deal. You know it's estimated that the average person loses about 30 hair a day.
Some of us are doing a little better than that. Have you ever washed your hair and you'll notice that well I assume that you've done that but but but notice in the sink or the bathtub the hair. You ever thought of what a good washing does to God's computer? I mean here's the number of hair on your head and now a whole new total has to come to pass.
Why? Because the very hair of your head is numbered. You talk about particular individual concern. It is the heavenly father for his children. Hail Mary full of grace, the angel said to her.
The only other place as you know that that expression occurs is Ephesians chapter 1 verse 6 where we are graced in the beloved one. We are number one on God's list of things to take care of in the universe and the reason that you should not worry is because of who you are. You are a king's kid and he's looking out for you. That's the first reason why we should not worry.
Let me give you a second reason. Worry is useless. It's useless. You'll notice Jesus said in verse 27 of who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life. You know does worry change anything? Now you know worry hurts your body.
What happens is it is like driving a car with your foot on the gas pedal and the brake simultaneously. It just grinds your system. It affects your ability to ward off disease, your immune system. It can give you back aches. It can cause all kinds of internal problems. It can shorten your life. It can do these things but it cannot add a single hour to your life. Worry is useless.
Now it would be worth you know all of those awful effects of worry if it changed something but it's powerless to do that. One day I was going to O'Hare Field with the intention of flying to Indiana. You folks here from Indiana. Could I say this because we're just friends here that this also was in the trib.
I'm not making it up. There was an article that said that we should determine the speed limit in these great United States by how much scenery there is. Seriously there was an article like that. And the suggestion was that in Indiana the speed limit be 120 miles an hour. I'm serious. Folks I wouldn't lay this on you but it's in the trib.
It was in the trib really just believe me. I was supposed to catch a plane to Indiana and I was on the way to O'Hare and discovered that one of these great tankers full of gasoline had overturned and was spilling on the expressway and all traffic was stopped. And so I decided to take a side road to O'Hare and discovered that anybody with any brains had the very same idea as I. Finally got to that big place that big garage and parked my car and was running to the elevator and pushed the button and discovered that one thing is sure the elevator will never die of anxiety. I mean it came so slowly it opened the doors as if to say as if to say what's your rush.
We've got all day. So I run up to the counter and it was about time for the plane to leave and I said I'm supposed to be on such and such a plane and and she said oh just relax. She says your plane has been canceled because of fog in Indiana and she said we'll put you on another flight in about an hour. So I bought a newspaper. It was probably the trib and as I sat there and read it I thought to myself you know I could have enjoyed that traffic jam. I could have enjoyed it. I didn't have to be so uptight. I could have been listening to WMVI rather than WBVM to get a traffic report.
Why? Because you see anxiety did not cause that traffic to move more quickly. Anxiety did not cause those elevators to open and to close more quickly. Anxiety changes nothing. It is absolutely useless and that's another reason why you should not worry. Jesus said it doesn't add anything to your life.
Can't change anything. It's the third reason and that is because of your testimony. Because of your testimony notice it says in verse 31 and following. So do not worry is saying what shall we eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear for the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly father knows that you have need of them.
He knows what your needs are. What Jesus is saying is that when we worry we are like the pagans. The pagans are uptight. The pagans are light. The pagans have all of this stress. The pagans are filled with anxiety.
Why? Because they don't know God. They have never experienced his provision. They have never known what it is to live in the warmth of the father's home and so they are worried and well might they be because they believe in in existentialism. It's been so long since I've used that word I just look forward to the opportunity of rolling it off my tongue.
Not sure if I quite remember what it means but it sounded good. They don't know that there's a heavenly father out there who cares about them and consequently you see they worry and when we worry we are like they are. Here's two people in the hospital. Both have cancer. One's a believer the other isn't. If they react the same where is our Christian faith?
Where's our Christian faith? You see the distinguishing mark is the fact that that the believer knows that that there is God. There is mystery and there is tears yes but there's also peace because the believer knows that sorrow and joy are not opposites. They are they can exist in the same person.
They can exist in the same person. There is peace in the midst of sorrow. The sorrow continues but there is peace in it. You see when when God allows someone of the world to have cancer he allows a Christian to have cancer so that the world can see the difference.
We accept trials differently. Jesus said that if you worry you are like the people who do not know God. Now there are three reasons why you shouldn't worry because of who you are because it is useless and thirdly because of your testimony. Now what we'd like to do is to look at how we can stop worrying.
How do we stop it? Wouldn't it be nice if you could control your thoughts and just simply say look this anxiety is getting me down. What I've decided to do is to worry from 9 30 in the evening to 10. Shut it off so I can get a good night's sleep and then I'll pick it up again and give it another half an hour tomorrow.
Wouldn't that be wonderful? But you can't do that because worry absolutely insists that it is going to invade your mind. It is like a blip on a television screen that you cannot control. It is it is something that that impresses itself upon your soul and no matter how much you want to keep your mind and heart stayed on God worry keeps saying I'm here I'm here I'm here I'm here I'm here. So how do you shut it off? And I say this very sincerely that at this point in the message and until the end Satan is alive and well wanting to keep us from the deliverance that God wants to give us because anxiety keeps your mind on something other than God and that's why it's such a great battle.
So how do we get rid of it? Well your Bible is open and what I'd like you to do if you're in the habit of underlining it is to underline three words. Three words in the Bible. The first is the word father in verse 26.
They do not sow nor reap nor store away in barns and there we have it but your heavenly father, father feeds them. It's to remember that you have a father. Now you say well but it's hard for me to trust my heavenly father. You know those of us who had good earthly fathers we discovered that it was easy to trust them because I knew for example that my father would would be a father and my father would would not allow me to have cancer if it were within his power to prevent it. He would not allow accidents and hardship and grief and disappointment but my heavenly father is different. He allows all that and more. You see our heavenly father is less predictable than our earthly father.
We honestly do not know what he might do. Now you say well does that mean that our heavenly father loves us less than our earthly father? Not at all.
Not at all. But listen carefully our heavenly father has an entirely different agenda. His agenda for us is different. You see his agenda is not to keep us from trials. His agenda is to walk with us through those trials that we might be shaped like his son. His agenda is to develop within us patience and hope and endurance. His agenda is to cut out from us all those things upon which we depend so that we might learn a whole new dependence upon him and that's why Spurgeon said oh blessed acts of sorrow that cuts a pathway to my god by chopping down the tall trees of human comfort. It is it is it is the trees of comfort being chopped down that that is that pathway to god and that's what he's interested in. Your earthly father no matter how good no matter how predictable primarily was concerned about this life. Your heavenly father is concerned about eternity and therefore has another agenda and that's why his ways are so mysterious and oftentimes hidden from us and that's why we have to trust him even though we do not know in advance what it is that he's going to do. We still have to believe that what he does he does right. We still have to believe that he loves us even in the face of some contrary evidence. That's the word you get to know your father. That's the first word to underline. Let me give you a second word to underline and that's the little word faith in verse 30. Verse 30 notice it says if that is how god closed the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire will he not much more clothe you oh you of little faith.
That's the word to underline father and faith. It has been estimated that only about nine percent or less of all the things that we worry about ever come to pass. All of the things that we have in our minds that we think might take place. All of the diseases that we think we might get. All of the accidents that we somehow anticipate.
All of the human relationships. All of the fears that we even write about and these fears are very very serious as you know oftentimes. I received a letter this week from a woman who wanted prayer because she's being stalked by someone and I can understand that this dear lady needs the strength and the prayers of the body of Christ.
She can't handle this alone. This is this is very debilitating but in the midst of all this and this is hard for us to get our minds around but in the midst of all this we have to be convinced that even there even there God walks with us. God walks with us.
Well this is Pastor Lutzer. I want you to know that we are so encouraged because of the ministry of running to win. Perhaps you also have been blessed and we're so thankful for those who stand with us with their prayers and their gifts. Listen to this letter that we received from someone who is in prison. He says, I've been in prison for 23 years and your programming and messages have had a life changing effect on my life. God's word has renewed me into a new man.
I've not always liked the messages but they've always been what I needed to hear. I feel that the Holy Spirit has urged me to let you know that because of you there was a dance party in heaven and it was for me. Well my friends as you have frequently heard me say running to win is not the ministry of a man or a church or an organization. It is your ministry.
It is the family of running to win those who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? Endurance partners are our family. You can go to rtwoffer.com.
Did I say that too quickly? rtwoffer.com and when you're there click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for helping us. Thanks for holding our hands as we continue to minister to thousands upon thousands of people around the world. Go to rtwoffer.com click on the endurance partner button or call right now call 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, Illinois 60614. Running to Win's purpose is to help you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time join us once again in Matthew chapter 6 as we focus on seeking first the kingdom of God as an antidote for anxiety. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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