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Why Worry? God’s in Charge!

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
August 23, 2022 4:00 am

Why Worry? God’s in Charge!

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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August 23, 2022 4:00 am

Do you struggle with anxiety? Well, even Christ’s disciples often expressed fears and concerns! So how does Jesus instruct us to deal with worry? Hear the answer in a popular message, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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R.C. Sproul
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Do you struggle with anxiety?

If you do, you're not alone. Even Jesus' disciples regularly expressed their concerns. So how did Jesus instruct them and how does He instruct us to deal with worry and fear?

We'll find out today on Truth for Life. Alistair Begg is teaching from chapter 12 in the book of Luke. Our focus is on verse 22. Jesus here is giving instruction to his disciples.

He has addressed the crowd. He's told the story of the rich fool, and now he says directly to his disciples, I want to tell you not to worry about your lives. The word which is used here for worry, the root meaning of it means to divide. When we worry, when we allow ourselves to go down that road, then we are drawn in different directions. One of the things that happens with worrying is that we are just not exactly sure how we're placed or where we're headed. Our thoughts are divided, they become distracted, and it actually has a debilitating effect upon us. It makes it difficult for us to complete even ordinary tasks.

And particularly in the matter of discipleship, it prevents the kind of wholehearted devotion which Jesus looks for in those who are his followers. Worry is something that we all face. Anxiety, fear is commonplace. And it would seem, just from observation, that living on the edge of the twenty-first century, there is plenty of cause for worry.

I'm talking with someone this morning. We were remarking on the fact that life is increasingly rootless. And as more and more communities dissolve in our society, individuals feel—and legitimately so—that they need somehow or another to find means of coping with circumstances that are increasingly bleak. At the same time, political structures are fragile at best.

Violence is not decreasing. People feel themselves increasingly trapped and powerless. And modern society is comprised of individuals who are drifting like corks on the ocean, unsure just what it is that moves them—these deep, irresistible currents that they cannot quite explain. Now, it is in that context that we live, and as we live in this environment, so we move into this first-century environment, and Jesus, speaking to his disciples in his day, gives them a word which is immediately applicable to them, and surprisingly—or not surprisingly—we find that two thousand years later, it rings out with tremendous clarity. And he's calling his disciples to do two things. First, to face the facts, and secondly, to put first things first.

First of all, then, face the facts. Now, the underlying fact we saw last time in verse 15, where Jesus, at the end of verse 15, points out to his listeners, a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. And it is in light of that principle there, that fact in verse 15—a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions—that Jesus has first of all warned his disciples against greed and covetousness, and now he flips to the other side, and he says, Therefore… In other words, in light of what I've been saying to you, you shouldn't be greedy.

And let me turn it over the other way and say to you, and you shouldn't worry. Because the root cause of greediness and worry is the same. They both emerge from a failure to trust God.

And the connection is clear. Since life does not depend upon stuff, Jesus says it's a dumb idea to worry about stuff. Fact one, our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions. Fact two, worry is a fact of life. Worry is a fact of life.

And not just for the pagan world, but for the believer also. Jesus is not here addressing a theoretical situation. He's not giving them extraneous instruction.

He's not telling them about something that they don't know anything of. And so, in verse 22, he says, Do not worry. In verse 25, he says, Does worrying work? In verse 26, he says, Why do you worry? Now, that ought to be an immediate encouragement to some of us who have been tyrannizing ourselves because of the fact that we worry, and we decided that if you were a genuine Christian, you wouldn't worry at all. Here, Jesus is speaking to those who actually live with him, sleep with him, listen to them, and he says, I got to talk to you about something here. I want to talk to you about the problem of worry.

Not something that is unknown to them, something that is experienced by them. Now, the way in which Jesus does this is very straightforward. He issues a call to his disciples to think. That's the significance of the word consider—the verb at the beginning of verse 24, and again at the beginning of verse 27.

Consider the ravens and consider all of these lovely flowers, he says. Now, the word consider means look, pay attention, perceive, think it out. And so he provides them with facts in order that they might then order their thinking on the basis of what is true. Most of our worries have to do with allowing our minds to be ordered by thinking that is untrue.

I think it was Mark Twain who said, I have had many troubles in my life, most of them I have never experienced. Fact number three—and I'm simply reiterating the text—since God created your life and your body, says Jesus, and since your life and your body are more significant than food and clothes, you ought to recognize that having given you a body, he's not gonna fail to clothe it or to feed it. Think it out, he says. If the Creator went to the extent of making you so that you could live life, do you think, having made you, he would then drop out at the point where you needed food and clothes?

So straightforward even a child would answer. Fourthly, he says, God looks after the birds and you're more valuable than birds. Verse 24, remember I've suggested to you in the past? You may want to put that on your CV. I can guarantee you it'll probably get you a callback, just so that somebody can ask, What in the world is that about?

It may be the key to you getting a job, you never know. Fifthly, he says, you can't add height or time to your life. Which of you, by worrying, can grow to the size of Michael Jordan? Any child can answer, none. Which of you, by worrying, can extend the length of your life?

Answer, none. Some old fellow once said that worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere at all. That's the point that Jesus is making. Sixthly, he says, despite the brief lifespan of flowers—we're in verse 27 now—despite the brief lifespan of flowers, God still makes them absolutely beautiful, and so he's going to take care of you as well. Seventhly, he points out that the root of worry is the absence of trust. At the end of verse 28, one little phrase, O you of little faith. You see, when the disciples worried, what they were saying was, God, you can't be trusted in this situation. That's what worry really is.

God, you cannot be trusted in this situation. And there are many places to which we might turn. The most obvious that will come to many of your minds is when they are on the boat in the middle of the lake, the storm comes, Jesus is asleep in the stern, he's on a pillow, they wake him up to inform the Creator of the universe that we're all about to drown, including him. And Jesus stands up, and he rebukes the winds and the waves, there's an immediate calm, and they look at one another, and he says, What manner of man is this that even the winds and the waves obey him? Now, when troubles overwhelm us, when circumstances emerge in our lives as we follow Christ, in many of these circumstances we cannot routinely get out of them or get rid of them.

Right? I mean, the circumstance itself—let's say it's illness, let's say it is a bad working situation, let's say it's a breakdown in a precious relationship or a friendship—and the circumstance itself we cannot extricate ourselves from. It is clear that we're going to have to experience the circumstance.

The issue is not getting out of or getting rid of that which troubles me, but what we can and ought to get rid of is the worry that accompanies the circumstance. And that is what Jesus is pointing out. So he's saying to them, I want you to consider these things and think it out.

Face the facts. And then he says, Put first things first. Verse 31, the principle, Seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Well, you might paraphrase it by saying, You take care of my things, and I'll take care of your things. In other words, let us give up on the side of fear, and let's move into the realm of faith. Let us recognize that God is capable for all of our circumstances, and don't let's allow ourselves to be so proud as to assume that we've actually found something here that God is unable to cope with.

Now, you see, this is the absolute reverse of the contemporary approach to the problem of worry. There's nothing that's really external to me that I can lay hold of and lean upon, these people are essentially saying, and so I've decided that I will trust the only one that I can trust. And I will take refuge in the only one in whom I can take refuge. And who's that?

Myself. And so you've got all these people paralyzed by fear, anxious about life, disparate in their relationships, and when it all crumbles around them, the psychologists tell them the only retreat you have is run into yourself. And since they sleep with themselves, they know what a horrible suggestion that is.

Because the same self into which they're supposed to crawl is the self that wakes them up in the night, and they lie looking up at the ceiling, overwhelmed by the circumstances of their days. And so Jesus does the absolute reverse. He says, Look away from yourself. Seek first the kingdom. In other words, bow before the King Jesus.

Acknowledge that he is sovereign over the affairs of time, that he has mastered over our destiny, that he knows our names, that he sees each tear that falls, that he hears us when we call. Now, you see, this is so very important when we're thinking about witnessing to our neighbors and friends as well. When our friends and neighbors give expression to their worries and to their fears, I hope none of us are smarty-pence enough or smug enough or silly enough to suggest that we know nothing of what they're describing.

Right? So the person says, You know, I'm so anxious about this. And we say, Oh, anxious are you? Oh, that's a dreadful thing, anxiety. No, there's no… No, I'm not anxious. Someone says, I'm so worried about my appointment tomorrow. I said, Worried? I can't believe you're worried. You know, if you were like me, you wouldn't worry. If you knew Luke 12, you wouldn't worry. No, if you knew 1 Peter 5, 7, you wouldn't worry.

And so goes on. And it's absolutely no help at all to the person. Because first of all, they've concluded that we don't know what we're talking about, that we're not even living in the real world, that we've never had an experience that rocked us back in our heels, and that somehow or another we are immune to the rigors of life. That is not Christianity.

That is falsehood. There isn't a single person in this room tonight can stand up and say they know nothing about worry. Everybody knows what it is to worry. Everybody knows what it is to be fearful.

Everybody knows what it is to be anxious. That's why Jesus has to teach his disciples about the subject. If it was alien to them, then why would he give them instructions about not worrying? And ask them, What is the profit in worrying?

And suggest to them that they take a course in looking out on the universe and realizing the fatherly care of God. When you're driving down the road, we will have the traditional chilling, cutting experience of going out to our cars and saying, Oh no, here we go. And saying, I should have listened to my wife when she said, Put the scraper in the boot. Put the scraper in the trunk. One of these days you're going to need it.

And I said, Not yet. I don't need it. And then I'm out there with a credit card scraping the windscreen like a strange man to get all of the ice off. And then the second thing is, I should have paid attention when she said, Now don't drive past the BP again. Get some of that blue stuff in the bottle. And we said, Oh, the blue stuff in the bottle?

There's plenty of time for that. And so, now we're down to our fingernails, scraping the windscreen. Now we have no blue stuff in the bottle. Now we start off on the street. Now we start the windscreen wipers going.

The windscreen wipers simply move the ice around a little bit, and then they get a fiendishly impervious little piece, and they just go … And it annoys you like fury, and you want to get out of the traffic lights, but you can't time it enough to run out and scrape it and then get back in. And so it just is there, and it says, Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na. Right, I know you've got this picture now.

Okay. This is a metaphor. When the windscreen of our life ices up, thus making it difficult for us to see and to make forward progress and to prevent ourselves from hazard and disaster, we need to say to our neighbors and friends, not, Our windscreen never iced up.

That's not true. We need to be able to tell them about what we have learned about God in his Word so as we have a methodology for dealing with the iced-up windscreen. And what is it? Well, it is actually the solvent of the Word of God itself. And it is the work of the Spirit of God to bring the solvent of the Word of God into the iced-up windscreen of our lives. So when our friends ask a reason for the hope that we have, when we've been honest enough to tell them that when we sat in the doctor's office and he went out into the corridor taking the pathology report, and we knew that he was talking to one of his colleagues, and we wished we could hear out the door, but we were frightened to open it, and we were pretty sure that if we opened it we wouldn't know what he was saying in any case, that we were honest enough to say to our friends, That scared me spitless. I stood in that room, and I looked out the window, and I imagined that there was no tomorrow. And the friend then says to us, So what did you do at that point?

I squished the windscreen. With what? With the Word of God. I reminded myself, God, you are sovereign in this circumstance. God, you know this report.

God, you walked this earth in Jesus. Now, I want to suggest to you, loved ones, that this will give us great credibility, then, in speaking to our friends. Because what they don't need to know is that we've never had the windscreen iced-up. They need to know that we have, but they don't know about the solvent. And what we need to tell them is about the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.

That's actually where we go. Because it is the cross which ultimately arrests my fears. Because my greatest sense of worry is what? And what is theirs, although they don't know it?

It is the fact that God has said eternity in my heart, and I know that I'm going to live forever somewhere, and I know that I have an appointment with the living God, and I'm pretty dead certain that if the appointment was tonight, I won't be able to face the appointment. I'll have to go to it, and I'll have nothing to say. That's why I feel alienated. That's why I feel disconnected.

That's why I can't make sense of the jigsaw. That's why I look up at the ceiling and wonder, instead of a bunch of silly stuff, you know—platitudes and pious kind of statements and little notes, quotes, and anecdotes—take them the only place that's worth taking them. Take them to the cross. You say, Well, why would I go to the cross? Because you need a Savior.

You see, your alienation and your sense of rootlessness is actually because there is a rootlessness that comes as a result of our being disconnected from God who made us. And our friend says, Well, I never understood that. You say, No, I know you didn't.

I didn't myself. And then you just go through the material form this morning. The historical Jesus, the theological significance, the offer of forgiveness and a fresh new start and a brand-new power and a whole new life and a heart transplant. And the person says, Well, does that mean you never worry anymore? He says, Oh no, you still worry. But the difference now is you understand that worry at its base is a sinful failure to trust our Father. It is futile. It is unnecessary. It is debilitating.

But it is normal. And therefore, we need to go to him. So we tell him that the Christian life is not a life free from worry, but when we ice up, then we turn to the solvency of God's truth.

Let me tell you how I do it, and I'll just give you these, and I'm going to wrap it up. When I'm worried about my complete sense of weakness, I squirt on 2 Corinthians 12.9. My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. So, paralyzed by the worry, I won't be able to cope. I won't be able to do this.

I'm not capable of this. Squirt on the solvent. When I am worried about dying, I squirt on the solvency of Romans 14, and I remind myself that I don't live to myself, and I don't die to myself. And I squirt on the solvency of Romans 8, and there's neither death nor life nor angels nor demons nor principalities nor powers nor nakedness nor peril nor sword can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. And so I say, Okay, let's take all that I'm feeling over here and let's counterbalance it with all the weight of the wonder of the solvency of this.

When I'm worried about making shipwreck of my faith, then I squirt on the solvent of Philippians 1.6, I am confident that he who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. You see, that's a lot more sensible approach, I suggest to you, than this silly nonsense about somehow we live above it all. You know, no, we don't experience this. Oh, icing up?

No, we don't ice up. That kind of repression will put you in a home where they turn the door on you and you stay in there for a long time. The perspective is wonderful. That's why he moves and he says, verse 32, "'Don't be afraid, little flock,' he says.

I know you look apparently ineffective. The Father's plans for you are glorious." So instead of hoarding and coveting and being like the guy in the parable I just told you, instead of worrying about whether you've got enough or if you move it on, if you can keep enough or what you do with your stuff, he says, instead of doing that, don't hoard, give. Be prepared to be outlandish in your generosity. Sell stuff as it seems necessary. Give it to the poor. Get a bank you can bank on. Put your treasure in that bank. Because the place where your treasure is is the place where you'll most want to be, and it's actually the place where you're going to end up.

Face the facts. First things first. Seeking his kingdom. If I'm going to seek the kingdom of God, I'm seeking God's control over every aspect of my life. God is not interested. Christ is not interested in becoming second in command in your army.

He's not interested in riding in the back seat of the car of your life. He is King and Lord and seeks the throne of your heart. And one of the reasons for worry in my life is when I am tempted to retake areas of my existence back into my own domain.

And sometimes it's almost as if he lets me so that he can say to me again, You see what a dumb idea that is? Now let me sit back up here where I should be, seeking God's control over me, and seeking God's character in me. Each of us needs to face the facts according to the Bible, put first things first, and seek God's kingdom. That's the clear teaching of scripture today from Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. Relying on the truth of God's word helps us face our fears. It also provides opportunities for us to share the gospel with others who are anxious. That's why it's our passion here at Truth for Life to teach the Bible every day. We believe scripture teaches us all we need to know about life and about God, and we trust that God works through Alistair's Bible teaching to bring unbelievers face to face with Jesus, to help believers grow deeper in their commitment to him, and to help establish and strengthen local churches. When you donate to Truth for Life, this is the mission that you're supporting, bringing clear, relevant Bible teaching to others through this daily program. And when you give today, we want to say thank you by inviting you to request a terrific book, a devotional book titled God Is. It's a devotional guide to the attributes of God. Request your copy of the book God Is today when you give a donation to Truth for Life. You can tap the image on the mobile app or visit us at donate.

I'm Bob Lapine. It would be a mistake for soldiers who are headed into battle to intentionally leave behind a critical weapon. So why would we? Join us tomorrow as we hear about an often neglected weapon of spiritual warfare. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-07 00:54:52 / 2023-03-07 01:04:10 / 9

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